Judge Mathis And Family Discuss Mental Health In The Black Community And Their New ShowBy Shaye WyllieGreg Mathis, better known as "Judge Mathis," is one of the longest-running African American male hosts on television and has ruled his TV courtroom, for over 20 years, with a generous dose of humor. With over 3,000+ episodes, and 23 seasons, "Judge Mathis" was nominated again this year for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Court/Legal Program, an honor the show won in 2018. He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 4, 2022.
But while the judge might rule the courtroom, at home he's just "Dad." In an interview, Greg Mathis jokes that "Greg the family man" is much different than the judge we've all seen on TV over the years, as his family "doesn't listen to his advice" and he's "constantly disrespected." And, although he jokes about his family being a mess—the good kind everyone wants to see on TV—while discussing his new family docu-series Mathis Family Matters, it's clear that they're all just like any other Black family you know.
So it's not at all shocking that his firstborn, Jade Mathis, is living life to the fullest on both coasts, as she decides if her dreams of being a full-time motivational speaker outweigh her career in law, while battling her own mental health issues.
"Nearly a third of the prison population in America have been deemed mentally ill. It's almost as if privileged kids get to go to counseling, and our kids get to go to jail."
—judge greg mathis
When Jade was asked what misconceptions she hopes to help shatter about Black women and depression, or just mental illness in general, Jade responds, "I am a walking testament…I look normal, you know, I'm fully functioning, and I have a mental health issue. So it doesn't have a face on it, it doesn't have a name on it. And most importantly, there's no reason to be ashamed of it."
"Own your story, own your truth, walk in it and just inspire others. You can still be successful in spite of your diagnosis, it's not the end," she says.
Staying on the topic of mental health in the Black community, Judge Mathis openly discusses the youth mental health crisis, stating that "nearly a third of the prison population in America have been deemed mentally ill." To which he says, "it's almost as if privileged kids get to go to counseling, and our kids get to go to jail."
This is a heartbreaking reality we all must take note of. And "that's why it's so important for us to address this. We have to awaken not only ourselves but also public policy elected officials, to let them know what is necessary to heal our community", says Judge Mathis.
And he says this doesn't just apply to the Black community but also to the LGBTQIA+ community. "The fact is, individuals in the LGBTQ[IA+] community are more at risk for mental health issues and at risk for things like death by suicide," says Greg Mathis, Jr., the oldest of the judge's two sons.
"I have been fortunate to have a very welcoming and supportive family, my brother and my best friend, I love them. And when you just think about, you know, finding your place in the world and what that means it is so much more helpful when you have a support system in place," says Greg. "And a lot of LGBTQ individuals don't have that. And so I know it's special that I do [have that support] with Amir, as well as the rest of our family."
As the two brothers discuss how important it is to have support, the younger of the two, Amir Mathis, admits that while his intentions were pure, he does understand that the way he handled finding out Greg was gay wasn't the best."
When Greg came out to me, I joined a gay basketball team in Chicago, you know, just to support him and support one of my friends who hadn't told [their] parents yet," says Amir. "And I think that like knowing that I could be a support to my brother, it helped me also support other people who didn't have a brother like me. And, you know, that's very important in terms of mental health and just everything."
But Greg Jr. wants the world to know that there is one specific thing you shouldn't do when it comes to supporting those who are coming out."I will jump in and say Amir technically did a bad thing when I came out, or when he found out I was gay. He outed me to my family," says Greg. Both brothers are able to laugh about it now, and while Amir jokes he "gets it from his father," Greg wants everyone to know outing someone isn't a laughing matter.
Another issue Black families face — that just isn't a laughing matter, is being able to "juggle it all." From raising children to maintaining a household and being a wife, to prioritizing your self-care and working, Black women, like Judge Mathis's daughter Camara Mathis Webb, are doing it all. And it does take a toll on one's mental health.
When asked how she's maintaining and prioritizing everything while still maintaining a relationship with her siblings and parents, Camara politely responds, "There's no such thing as a real balance."
"Some days I have to prioritize my children, some days I'm like, okay, I need my husband to step in a little more, and I have to prioritize work. And you know, I have family time. So it's always like — it's a balancing act. But there's never like a moment where I feel like everything is getting attention because I'm only one person."
For so many parents this is relatable. We're always being pulled in every direction. As Camara says, "you always want to give them your all, but if [we're] not doing what makes [us] happy as well, then [we] won't have enough to give to them."
Linda, the matriarch of the family, who has a fabulous quick wit, knows this all too well, as it's her mission to keep everyone together through the ups and downs. This is why she wants all of you, all of us, to know that "she has raised four fantastic children, who are all individuals. And so there must be something behind that—that, you know, made them be such great children." Because while Judge Mathis has had great success helping others, when it comes to his family, his opinions and being an "expert on everything" sometimes falls flat as he helps to guide his children through adulthood.
Despite it all, the former Detroit-area district court judge is ecstatic that his new show Mathis Family Matters premieres this Sunday, June 19th at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on E! with back-to-back episodes. As a Black father, Greg says it's "an honor to launch on Juneteenth/Father's Day. You have a Black father trying to show a good example, on a Black holiday."
It truly is an amazing thing.
The family docu-series will offer a rare look into the Mathis's exclusive Hollywood lifestyle and family fun and looks like it will be a great show.
Starring Judge Mathis, his wife Linda Mathis, and their four grown children—Jade Mathis, Camara Mathis Webb, Greg Mathis Jr., and Amir Mathis—along with their own careers, relationships, personalities, and off-the-wall dynamics, the Mathis family is ready to take Los Angeles by storm.