Adwoa Aboah: I’ve formed a bond with Professor Green over our dark times

MIranda Bryant
Unlikely friendship: Gurls Talk Co-founder and model-activist Adwoa Aboah and rapper Professor Green: Cindy Ord/Getty

Adwoa Aboah said she has developed an “amazing bond” with Professor Green as they joined forces in New York to talk about their experiences with mental health issues.

The model, 25, who has featured on the cover of British Vogue, invited the rapper, 34, to join her on stage at the first New York event for Gurls Talk, her platform for young women.

Aboah, who went to boarding school, told the Standard: “He grew up completely differently to me [but] we have formed this amazing bond because we are both understanding and sympathetic to being in those dark times.”

Aboah met the rapper, who was born Stephen Manderson and grew up on the Northwold estate in Clapton, at Buckingham Palace through their involvement in Heads Together, the charity set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The pair have talked about their experiences with depression and suicide. Manderson’s father killed himself almost 10 years ago and Aboah tried to do so in 2015.

Loved up: Professor Green with his girlfriend Fae Williams (Dave Benett)

In their discussion at Brooklyn’s Industry City, Manderson said he suffered from anxiety from as young as five but did not realise what it was until he started to become more aware of his mental health after his father’s death in 2008.

He said: “Mental health issues is something that was never discussed. It took a tragedy like that for me to start taking care of my own.”

Aboah said her experiences talking to young women around the world for her charity have shown how mental health issues are universal. “I meet girls from Ghana, I meet girls from Skid Row in LA, I meet girls here [in New York], in posh areas, posh boarding schools in England,” she said.

She called for better mental health education in schools, more conversations within families and more realistic portrayals on screen.

She said: “In films [suicide] is depicted as ‘ah, emotional’. I’m sure maybe in certain situations it is but for me it was this dark, silent, lonely, almost mundane and normal day for me where I went through my day-to-day things with the knowing that I was going to do what I did at the end of the day. The true essence of what it is to be that unhappy needs to be portrayed truthfully in stories, in film. There should be no kind of glamorising of all of it.”

Aboah praised the abundance of therapists and open approach to emotions in the US but said that cost could be prohibitive. She said: “There’s this obviously British tough upper lip. The American cultural approach to mental health is a bit more forward-thinking but the support is not for people from all different demographics.”