“You go through what you go through and give thanks to God for bringing you out of that situation. Then, you extend your hand back to help bring the next man up”.
Craig Cooper is from Landover, Maryland. He is a mental health coach. He is the Founder and CEO of Uplift Kings which is a platform for all boys and men to uplift each other. He is 11 years free from depression and suicidal ideations. He has a podcast called "Walking Purpose" to highlight men's stories around mental health to break the stigma. He also has a background in mixed martial arts and tai chi. He is the Co-Founder of ImanT Apparel which is a mental health clothing brand. RUM: Why is mental health so important to me? CC: Mental Health is so important to me because it can affect every area of your life. It affects how you think, feel, and act. If you don’t take of the inner you, it will become difficult to enjoy your life. Everything starts in your mind and then it will manifest in real life. RUM: What birthed the Uplift Kings?
CC: In 2020, I was going through a phase where I was feeling burned out. When the pandemic first
happened, I got the chance to relax my mind. I remember one day in particular my fiancé was hosting a series called the “Escape Zone” to have a safe space for women. At that moment, I realized that there weren’t many spaces for men to have a safe space to talk about their feelings and emotions. Through my battle with depression and suicidal ideations, I always wanted to share my story to help someone else. I also listened to Sarah Jake's sermon. The sermon was called “From Weeping to Walking”. At the moment, I felt like she was right there in the room speaking to both of us saying “it’s time to get up and start over”. The next day God gave me a vision of a name that stuck with me which was Uplift Kings. He gave me the idea and the logo. On May 15th, I had my first podcast interview with Men Talk TV. I remember receiving tons of positive feedback and that encouraged me to start my own podcast called the “Walking Purpose Podcast”. I wanted to give men of all races a platform to share their stories and experiences with the world to break the stigma around mental health. RUM: Why is it so difficult for men to admit any help? CC: Society has placed a negative stigma on men to speak out about their feelings and emotions. It takes a long time for men to express themselves because their immediately judged and called weak. It’s hard for men to trust others because of fear, judgment, childhood trauma, no father and etc. Therapy is often labeled as a “bad thing” within black families. It forces men to mask their pain and suffer in silence. Often times some men feel as though they don’t have anyone to talk to when they are dealing with trials and tribulations in life. As early as the age of 3 years old, little boys are told: “boys don’t cry, wipe your tears, or man up”. This kind of talk can strip a boy’s emotions away at an early age and then we become emotionless. RUM: How do you plan to educate men on mental health in the future?