Conversations around mental health problems have never been more prevalent than they are today.
As rates of mental health illness continue to rise, more and more of us are using social media to discuss our experiences or to come up with creative methods to spotlight these issues. Chris Allport, also known as 'Steve' the Anxious Rapper, is doing just that, by writing comedy raps based on his "anxious episodes".
Writing for Mashable, Allport reveals that the first lyrics he wrote were a recollection of a panic attack suffered at a 2009 party.
My chest was pounding, and I was convinced I was having a heart attack. Annoyingly, the 911 operator did not share my sense of urgency.
In fact, she said marijuana-induced panic attacks were common and that this "didn't qualify as an emergency".
But when he started writing about the incident in the style of legendary comedy rappers The Lonely Island and Jon Lajoie, Allport found catharsis; "it was so therapeutic that I decided to take more recent anxious 'episodes' from my life and rap about them."
Now, he has a YouTube channel filled with several songs. Some are explicitly about his anxiety - 'Xanax', for example - whereas others aim to provide sarcastic social commentary, like 'Objectify', which looks at the sexualisation of women. He describes this creative process as a "form of emotional release":
Condensing problems into silly couplets allows me to organise chaotic thoughts into a structure that makes more sense.
The self-conscious version of myself, the version that can't or won't discuss my anxiety, goes away and I inhabit this rap persona where I feel comfortable talking about my deepest fears and insecurities.
Allport also argues that comedy rap is a subversion of hip-hop, which he describes as a "hyper-masculine genre". Of course this isn't universally true, especially now, but he argues that the likes of The Lonely Island resonated with him because they rap as a means to "sing about things men are conditioned to see as emasculating instead of boasting".
Of course, this stigma contributes to an overall lack of discussion of mental health issues and their effects on men.
Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the United Kingdom, yet men are less likely to seek help or talk about vulnerability or poor mental health than women. This lack of conversation is exacerbating an already lethal problem, which is why anything that dissolves stigma suggesting that discussion of mental health issues is 'emasculating' should be celebrated.
Allport's videos have also facilitated dialogue with his followers, many of whom have reached out to confirm that they share some of his "ridiculous" fears.
Steve provides me with a platform to engage with other anxious people.
It's remarkably easy to relate and, even better, laugh about some of the irrational thought patterns we share, or don't share but recognise as anxiety That bond - knowing you're not alone - can help lessen the power anxiety has over you.