Here in the United States, we have a considerable amount of scar tissue around the issue of race. Within the races and between them, just the mention of one’s racial identity can cause immediate discomfort. But there can be no mistaking that mental illness doesn’t discriminate along these lines, and there’s a groundswell in the Black community to raise awareness for these health concerns to alleviate stigma and ensure individuals can get the help they need.
Yolo Akili Robinson recently wrote about Black mental health literacy in a recent piece for Huffington Post, in which she explains her initiative to help raise awareness in the Black community called BEAM, which stands for The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective. The initiative works to raise awareness of mental health-related symptoms and how to provide support for anyone and everyone, but particularly those charged with leadership in the Black community like doctors, pastors, and teachers. The aim of awareness-raising activities is to reduce stigma in order to increase help-seeking behaviors. You can read more about the initiative here.
We here at hope & grace are passionate about all programs that alleviate stigma and raise awareness for mental health, and we applaud BEAM for its incredible efforts. Awareness starts in the community, and if initiatives like this can reduce social and cultural stigma in order for people to get the help they need, so much the better. If you need assistance, seek programs that can help you. NAMI is always there anytime you need them.
We look forward to a day when these health concerns are considered with the same care and compassion as cancer or heart disease. It’s a day we wish for with hope and grace.