| "Once my loved one 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. The message must go on billboards and in radio and TV public service announcements. It must be preached from pulpits and discussed in community forums. It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."
--Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
Bebe Moore Campbell was an accomplished author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006.
She received NAMI's 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature (see works below). Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.
In 2005, inspired by Campbell’s charge to eliminate stigma and provide mental health information, longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort. When Campbell reacted with, “You can’t just do that,” Wharton-Boyd responded, “Claim it!” And together they did.
The duo got to work, outlining the concept of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and what it would entail. With the support of the D.C. Department of Mental Health and then-mayor Anthony Williams, they held a news conference in Southeast D.C., where they encouraged residents to get mental health checkups. Support continued to build as Campbell and Wharton-Boyd held book signings, spoke in churches and created a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce of friends and allies.
However, the effort came to a halt when Campbell became too ill to continue. When Campbell lost her battle to cancer, Wharton-Boyd and a cadre of friends, family and ally advocates reignited their cause, fueled by the passion to honor the life of an extraordinary woman.
The taskforce members researched and obtained the support of Representatives Albert Wynn [D-MD] and Diane Watson [D-CA], who cosigned legislation to create an official minority mental health awareness month.
The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group, was passed in recognition that:
Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, written especially for children, portrays the story a young girl who learns how to cope with her mother's bipolar illness.
72-Hour Hold is a novel focused on an adult daughter and a family's experience with the onset of mental illness. It shades light on the struggle not just with the illness, but with the healthcare system as well.
In this fifth year NAMI has partnered with the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED) to promote and celebrate National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month:
Click to watch the video created with appreciation for all who joined us in ways big and small to help spread the word about National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and take action in 2012.
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