changemaker spotlight: greg best (greg best music)
Our community is filled with philanthropic individuals and mission-driven organizations that are leading awe-inspiring change. We created our Changemaker Spotlight series to showcase the incredible work they’re doing.
First up is Greg Best, local music producer, composer, and songwriter who is passionate about suicide prevention.
Why are mental health and suicide prevention close to your heart?
I have lost three loved ones to suicide — my cousin, my college professor, and my friend. They all happened within less than a year of each other. When you exist with that kind of pain, you can’t help but get involved with providing solutions. I decided to make it my mission to raise awareness wherever I am and whenever I can.
What do you do specifically to support mental health and suicide prevention?
The most important advocacy starts right in your own home or across the table from your friends. I talk about mental health and suicide often to normalize the conversation. The stigma fades as we address these topics regularly. I also give 50% of my music royalties to suicide prevention organizations and have representatives from The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention present at my live performances.
How does Greg Best Music address a need or fill a gap in our community, now and in the future?
My primary focus is to help especially the younger generation feel validated and supported. I do this by advocating for arts education. The arts are one of the most profound emotional expressions, and since arts programs (especially music) are being cut rapidly both locally and across the states, I am working to put together a program that can restore these losses.
How does it make you feel to give back?
I am proud to be a part of a movement that helps people embrace themselves and find what gives expression to that which is deepest within them.
What is the most rewarding part about supporting this cause? How about the most challenging aspect?
The most rewarding part is always seeing someone come to life in a new way. The most challenging part is helping people who don’t understand mental illness see it for what it is, an illness, and not always a temporary “state of mind.”
From your experience and expertise, what might someone be surprised to learn about mental health and suicide prevention?
I think people might be surprised that they probably know someone who has suicidal thoughts and may be hiding their depression, diagnosed or not. Depression is a disease that causes people to essentially wear a mask and hide their pain from the world. Some people with severe depression are able to hide behind their success, achievement, and popularity. I’ve heard many people say, “How could (that person) do that? They were famous and rich and had everything going for them.” Depression isn’t a temporary problem and suicide is a hijacking of the mind. It’s less of a choice than we think.
If someone wanted to get involved with suicide prevention, what would you say?
I would say be prepared for a great deal of intense emotions. I would also say it can’t be done without professional assistance. When we talk about mental health, we need the tools necessary to walk the journey. It’s a tough road. Getting therapy while being a part of this cause makes a statement that says, “I will be a part of the process that helps everyone to be their most healthy self.” It also wipes off the stigma and shame. I hope more people become a part of the mental health advocacy community. It’s going to change the world.
Do you know a local changemaker who deserves some recognition? Contact us to share your idea for our next Changemaker Spotlight.