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​Photo by @Alexhazelstudios.
Photo by @Alexhazelstudios.

Coffee, Community, and Deep Breaths

Hip-hop artist and founder of Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health, Christopher LeMark, shares his mental wellness routine.

Christopher LeMark is the founder of Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health, a Chicago-based non-profit organization and coffee shop that aims to provide community and mental wellness support one cup at a time. Customers just don’t go to his establishment for a regular cup of Joe, they come to enjoy a sense of togetherness and to feel seen.

Being that June is Men’s Mental Health Month, we reached out to him and asked him to share some of his own wisdom about coping with emotional struggles and depression. The interview below has been lightly editted for length and clarity.

\u200bPhoto by @Alexhazelstudios.

Photo by @Alexhazelstudios.

Okayplayer: What are three simple things you would recommend people do if they are struggling with mental wellness issues?

Christopher LeMark: One, reach out to someone you trust to let them know you are struggling mentally and emotionally.

Two, take a moment if you can and be present with the emotions you’re feeling. It’s OK to cry as long as you’re letting it out. That’s most important.

Three, if you can just stop for a moment and take the deepest breath that you can, you will learn how to calm yourself down. Just stop where you are and take a deep breath all the way in and let that stuff out. This practice will teach you how to self-soothe yourself.

Why was it important for you to dedicate your life to aiding and empowering those with mental health issues?

I spent my entire life, trying my very best to manage the wounded little boy on the inside of me. And I watched how my childhood wounds impacted my adult life and I just didn’t want anybody else to struggle with that as well. I decided to dedicate my life to being a mental health advocate, because it brings me joy to fight for people who feel powerless.

What is your own mental health practice/routine and what keeps you centered, calm, and happy?

I do a lot of breathing exercises. I’m currently learning how to play the guitar. I am still in therapy myself but finding other creative ways to help center myself helps a great deal. I’m trying yoga and so many things that allow me to regulate my emotions in any situation.

Support his movement and learn more about his worthy cause by clicking here.