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Rapper YG Tackles Mental Health for the Disadvantaged In Los Angeles with Mobile TeleHealth Service

West Coast rapper YG is serious about supporting mental health and wellness initiatives in his community. The chart-topper, who set the country on fire with his hit 2016 song “FDT” featuring Nipsey Hussle, is now using his celebrity to help others.

According to the Los Angeles Sentinel, the chart-topper is entering into the health and wellness space through a partnership with former Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley and marketing and staffing entrepreneur Dion Rambo called TeleHealth.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 03: Rapper YG looks on during play between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

His new TeleHealth program, a venture that launched in 2020 in Los Angeles, is a portable health service that is now partnering with the City of Hawthorne. On Wednesday, Nov. 17, three new 5G-enabled vans were debuted with the charge to make physical and mental health easily accessible to marginal people in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County.

Rambo stated the reason he collaborated with YG on TeleHealth was to “save families” and to “save lives.”

He shared, “We both live in the community, are businesses owners, and have our own careers, but we wanted to save as many lives as we could when it comes to the homeless side, but also those being released from jail. That’s YG’s initiative; how do we keep them out?”

Mental health is especially important to the Compton rapper. After realizing that he too was dealing with mental health trauma, he started to deconstruct all of the stereotypes connected to understanding psychological wellness.

He told a story in 2018 on “The Breakfast Club” about how he became aware of his own challenges with mental health. Once while playing his graphic music to an associate, and his friend asked him if any of what he was saying was true. When he told him that he only writes from life experiences, he suggested that he go to see a therapist.

He said to Charlamagne Tha God, DJ Envy, and Angela Yee that another friend, movie producer Scott Budnick, also spoke about mental health, connecting it to the prison-industrial complex. He said, “They was talkin’ to me about mental health and how a lot of our people … we like mental health victims. I’m like damn, ‘I’m a victim to this sh-t! I ain’t really know what the sh-t really was until they started breaking it down.”

People in disenfranchised communities can be unaware that they are in a mental health crisis.

The Psychiatric Times states that “Poverty is one of the most significant social determinants of health and mental health, intersecting with all other determinants, including education, local social and community conditions, race/ethnicity, gender, immigration status, health and access to health care, neighborhood factors, and the built environment (e.g., homes, buildings, streets, parks infrastructure).”

TeleHealth deals with a bevy of those conditions and became especially helpful during the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic when poor people were becoming increasingly isolated and estranged from medical care.

In June, he told TMZ, that he created the vans for the inner city.

“It works like—you basically don’t leave your house if you got a mental health situation or got doctors you need to talk to,” the rapper said. “The van comes to your location and you get in the van—it’s basically like doing a Zoom call. You get in the van and you see your mental health worker or [doctor] over the screen, and y’all have y’all session.”

These 5G-Vans will travel the neighborhoods and are fully equipped with everything one might find in a clinic. The medical professionals connected to TeleHealth come from the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine and they offer mental health screenings and medical insurance submissions. 

The chart-topper even brought his mother, Shonee Jackson, into the fold to help plan and execute the mission of saving the community. He further noted that working with the city of Hawthorne has been particularly easy because the municipality believes in the mission.

“The city is, for sure, getting involved, getting behind it,” the “Swag” rapper shared. “Everybody loves the idea. They love the fact that it’s Black people doing something real for the Black community.”

And the city, from the mayor’s office to the City Council, sees how beneficial this program will be to the community.

Councilmember Reyes English stated, “As a mother of three adult Black women, grandmother of seven Black grandchildren, Latina. It’s important for our community to understand that there is a need when it comes to mental health, behavioral health services, and much more.”

“It’s my hope that TeleHealth Van, being a minority business, becomes the thrust that we need to push this program forward, so that many other communities who look like us and have a need like us, can understand the importance of developing a program like TeleHealth Van,” she concluded.

It just might be. In November alone, the first TeleHealth Van fleet has already impacted the community providing health care services with low to no associated costs.

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