(AllHipHop News) May is National Mental Health Month and more than ever, Black and Brown people are reporting various conditions that can be considered mental illness.
However, minorities still are not as accounted for in research and studies because many still resist the stigma associated with being diagnosed.
What the biggest reason?
Few people know the difference between mental illness and mental health.
According to Magellan Health Insights, mental health refers to someone’s psychological and emotional state, their interaction with other people, their social well–being and how they feel about who they are
Mental illness is not necessarily connected to someone’s mental health. It refers to a wide range of disorders that affect mood, thinking, and behavior.
It can impact anyone regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, social standing, or religion.
There are some biological factors that can contribute to mental illness like genes or brain chemistry, family history of trauma and abuse.
Poor mental health can lead to mental and physical illnesses and despite what some people think, mental illness is not something the person can “overcome with willpower.”
Former LaFace Records executive and founder of the Silence the Shame organization, Shanti Das has been working to help spread awareness to the Hip-Hop and minority communities.
Over the last 28 years, Das has worked with artists such as TLC, OutKast, Toni Braxton, the Goodie Mob, Usher Raymond and so many more.
She has decided to make the shift from working to servicing people with music campaigns, to serving folk with tools to help mental wellness.
After losing her father, best friend, and several colleagues to suicide and suffering from her own bouts with depression and suicidal thoughts, she decided that suffering the shame is silence was not a sacrifice she is willing to continue to make.
Das said that there are five basic things that people should know when they are dealing with someone struggling either with mental health issues or mental illness.
1. Not judge or place labels on folk
There are reasons why judging people who have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues or illnesses is just not cool. Mostly because it exacerbates whatever their problems are. Also, no one chooses mental illness. The stats around both are staggering: 1 out of 5 adults in America experience some form of mental crisis and less than half of that number even attempts to get treatment (waiting upward of 10 to 20 years before seeking help). They don’t get help because of the labels and stigma that comes along with a diagnosis. No one likes to be called crazy — moreover, no one deserves to be called that either.
2. Listen and keep your cool
When you acknowledge that someone is struggling, in addition to not judging them, you have to learn how to listen. We live in a world where we are quick to fix people and give advice. Sometimes, people just need you to listen to them talk. Helping them to work through what they are feeling as an active listener shows that you are supportive without taking over.
3. Educating yourself around mental health and wellness
As mentioned in the body of the text, there is a distinct difference between mental health and illness and knowing not just the differences but the stigma surrounding the two will distinguish the difference between you as a busybody and an ally. You have to get a mental health first aid to communicate clearly.
4. Normalizing the conversations in your community and circles of influence
Don’t make it weird. Hip-Hop artists have started to more frequently introduce mental wellness into their lyrics, and just as easily everyday people can do the same. Honesty opens all kinds of necessary doors for people to walk through. Talk with people around you, there are more people struggling than you can imagine.
5. Supporting mental health organization
Funding has been cut nationally for mental health organizations and it is up to ordinary people to support nonprofits that have the mission to help our communities. Organizations like Silence the Shame that focuses on education and creating awareness. This week coming up, at the start of National Mental Health Month, Silence the Shame has partnered with a group of DJs to host a series of dance-a-thons as an innovative way to raise money. These virtual parties/fundraisers will be hosted by celebrity DJ Trauma, producer Bryan Michael Cox, producer Dallas Austin, rap artist Kwamé music programming master-mind Stephen Grant Hill and more on their respective Instagram Lives from May 1st to May 10th. One of Silence the Shame’s long-time supporters, Jermaine Dupri, will DJ a virtual dance party called “Dance to Donate” on Tuesday, May 5th from 4 pm – 6 pm (EST).
Over the last four years, she has garnered her celebrity friends to do workshops, speaking engagements, fundraisers, mini-concerts and so many other activations to create awareness around both mental health and mental illness.
This year’s fundraiser is dedicated to the memory of her sister, the one that started her on her healing journey, who transitioned last year. The goal is to raise one million in resources for the advancement of Silence the Shame organization.
Follow the movement: www.silencetheshame.com