"Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can't we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans...It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."
Three years later, the U.S. House of Representatives announced July as Bebe Moore Campbell "National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month".
In Ms. Campbell's words, I find purpose, power and the courage to create something that will accomplish all she mentioned and more. That something is my short documentary, "Black Girl, Bleu". In it, five women, who I call "Truth-Tellers", share their struggles with mental health, while two mental health professionals, or "Healers" talk about how necessary it is for Black women to tend to their mental wellness, including how.
Unfortunately, there are several barriers to mental healthcare, from socioeconomic, emotional, mental and physical to cultural.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, only one-in-three African Americans who need mental health care receive it (Mental Health Disparities - African Americans, 2017 ).
The strong, independent Black family, and in particular the “Strong Black Woman” stereotype, has created a cloud of shame, hopelessness and fear surrounding mental health to the point where it seems like our only option is to suffer in silence rather than seek the healing we so desperately need and desire. I know, because I have been here many times before.
“Black women are especially vulnerable to wrestling with their mental health, consistently reporting higher feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and the sense that everything is an effort," says Dr. Hutcherson in "8 Health Conditions That Disproportionately Affect Black Women".
This is where this campaign, the Black Girl, Bleu Mental Health Fund, comes in. With your support, I want to reduce the financial barrier to receiving mental healthcare by providing Black women with individual and group therapy sessions, free of charge!
They will be able to attend group therapy via our upcoming virtual community or choose a Black therapist from our list of trusted mental healthcare professionals.
Now is the perfect time to make sure Black women have what they need to heal. The COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and fight for Black lives to matter makes working through fear, anxiety, depression and PTSD, among other things, ten times more difficult to do. However, it's possible with the help of caring, culturally competent mental health professionals.
In honor of Ms. Bebe Moore Campbell (who passed in 2006) , let's create room for Black women to share their truth. Let's help Black women experiencing mental health challenges realize that they are not alone and that healing is possible.
Let's make sure all Black women know that they matter, their pain matters, and that health, wellness and freedom are available to them.
Will you join me in making this dream a reality? If your answer is "Yes!", then click the button below to donate what you can or follow then share it via email, text, or on social media with your family, friends and community.
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