Since stepping into the spotlight as an accomplished actor, rapper, singer and performer extraordinaire, Queen Latifah has never been afraid to speak up and address important issues, and mental health is no exception. Now, she’s partnering with Cigna to remind us that health involves the whole person — body and mind.
As part of the campaign, Latifah is encouraging people to schedule their annual checkups with their doctor in order to stay on top of their health and catch any problems before they become more serious. On top of that, she is stressing the importance of being honest with medical professionals in order to receive the best, most accurate care possible.
“Be open with doctors and nurses — not just physically, but emotionally and mentally,” Latifah tells SheKnows. “And to me, that’s always been a much better approach because they’re coming from it [via] the whole-body perspective. I’ve felt it’s a much better way to deal with your health.”
Part of being open with your medical team is making sure they’re taking your pain seriously, which can be particularly challenging for women of color.
“I think it’s very important that we, especially as Black women, don’t hold back about being honest about what we’re feeling — not just what we’re feeling physically, but what we’re feeling emotionally,” Latifah says. “These things are all tied together, and they can all affect each other… Be honest, be real. Don’t play around. If something is going wrong with you that you don’t feel right about, talk to your doctor about.”
And Latifah is not new to mental health advocacy; in fact, a 1996 episode of her sitcom Living Single featured her character, Khadijah James, seeing a psychiatrist at a time when getting help for mental health issues wasn’t talked about as much, let alone featured in a primetime network television show. She says that the show’s producer, Yvette Lee Bowser, wanted to include a storyline in which someone visited a therapist and says that she had been to a therapist herself for the first time not long before Living Single began.
“There is a little bit of a stigma in the community about seeing a therapist,” Latifah explains. “So it was important that we tackle that subject and do it honestly and deal with it.”
In the episode, Khadijah was trying to deal with all the stress that came with running her own business and had the realization that getting help is a good thing. Latifah says she had the same realization and wishes she had learned about therapy and gotten help sooner than she did.
“When you’re trying to handle everything, trying to do it all, it’s not possible to be everything all the time perfectly and have that all work out,” she explains. “At some point, something’s going to crack. Something’s going to break. We’re all human.”
Speaking of Living Single, Latifah says a reboot is “definitely a possibility that’s strongly in the works.”
Latifah also dropped a few hints as to when we’ll receive the cinematic gift of Girls Trip 2. In short, she says it’s “definitely happening” and that right now, they’re just waiting for the script to be finished and to find out where they’re going on this trip.
“We’re all in. We’re ready to go,” she says. “So hopefully, we’re going to be shooting that this year. We’re all ready to get back together and have some fun.”
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