"Patriot Act" Host Hasan Minhaj Talks Mental Health, Stigma

By Desiree Bowie 11/15/19

"I remember telling my dad, 'I'm feeling really sad.' He's like, 'Drink some water and take a nap.' Ironically, if you know someone who is drinking and sleeping all day, they might be depressed."

"Patriot Act" Host Hasan Minhaj
Photo via YouTube

Netflix's Patriot Act recently returned for a new cycle and host Hasan Minhaj is tackling the hot button topic of mental health. Ahead of the show's return, the comedian spoke to Teen Vogue about mental health care, stigma, and how good it feels to talk to a therapist because they can't "legally snitch on you."

"It is something that I think is very much finally being spoken about, but in communities of color there’s still a stigma around mental health," Minhaj said. "I kind of wanted to tell my own personal story in regards to that, but also talk about the systemic mechanisms put in place that are preventing people from getting the mental health care that they need."

He then described his personal relaitonship with mental health and how his family views the highly-stigmatized topic.

Sweeping Depression Under The Rug

"Well for the longest time, you know, in our community we just didn’t think of mental health as a thing. I remember talking to my parents about it, and it’s like in our community if you're ever feeling down or if you feel like ...you're going through issues, it's like, you need to pray more and you need to sleep," he explained.

"I remember telling my dad, 'I'm feeling really sad.' He's like, 'Drink some water and take a nap.' Ironically enough if you know someone who is drinking and sleeping all day, they might be depressed. It's one of those things where it's like we're finally getting to a place where okay, we can have that conversation, overcome the stigma."

For those who are able to overcome the stigma and reach out for help, access to care remains a pervasive issue. Something Minhaj acknowledged in both the Teen Vogue interview and on The Patriot Act.

"The saddest part is, is that if you are one of the few people that are actually lucky enough to have healthcare in this country — if you think getting physical healthcare is hard, getting proper mental healthcare treatment is incredibly difficult by design"


Fans of The Patriot Act know that while the topics can be heavy they are always infused with humorous asides. In this case, Minhaj cracks on how awesome it is to tbe completely honest about your feelings to a therapist because they are legally obligated to keep your info confidential. 

Benefits Of Talk Therapy - No Snitching

"One of the things that we talk about in the episode is, 'Hey, can we all just admit it's nice to talk to somebody who can't legally snitch on you.' We all have this fear of if I tell people, even people that I love, things that are hurting me or concerning me, this could come around and hurt me later. Or, maybe I'm telling them too much, or maybe I'm being a burden. I think that just being able to say that I think is a step in the right direction of like, 'I think I just may need someone to talk to.'"

Minhaj added, "Approximately 43 million Americans suffer from a mental health issue. Again, it is sort of a sliding scale and it varies case to case, depending on what your personal circumstances are, what your biological and genetic circumstances are, and also substance [use disorder]. What substances you are taking or not taking. The thing that we wanted to focus on is just let's just focus on mental health as an overarching topic, you know. I just love that we were able to actually tie it into a very specific piece of legislation called the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act."

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Desiree Bowie is a writer and movie lover from Los Angeles, California. Follow her on Twitter @dangerbowie