Friday, February 06, 2015

Fed Up Friday - Mental Health Check Up

Can we have a talk about mental health? I mean, like, a real conversation about mental illness. Not some surface "Oh, it happens to other people" type talk. And definitely not one of those "I don't know anyone with a mental illness" talk. Because you do. You DO know someone who suffers from a mental illness.

I can only write about what I know-- and what I have seen in the Black community is that we, as a whole, pretend that mental illness doesn't affect us. So, if we have an uncle that is depressed, we never say that is what it is. We say shit like "Aye, he has never really bounced back from ___" and let it be that. If we have a schizophrenic brother, we say shit like "that is just how he is," never acknowledging that he could pose a danger to himself or others. We don't talk about suicide attempts, PTSD, Down's Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, etc. Nothing that makes us look like we are weak. Nothing that makes it easier for others to point out our faults. We admit nothing. Or if we do acknowledge that there may be a problem, we try to pray it away. Prayers with no other action. Honestly, it is sad. 

There are men and women in our community that we are doing a complete disservice by continuously pretending that whatever issues they may struggle with don't exist. They do. These illnesses are real. By denying the existence of these illnesses we allow the stigma to continue; we allow a cancer to continue to grow, unchecked; we allow some of these illnesses to continue to be passed from parent to child, awarding our silence with more illness. All because we don't want other people to perceive us as weak. But when DO we talk about it? When does that time come? When do we start to pair all these prayers up with some action that will help ourselves? 

Let me tell you when we will finally say something... when someone dies or does something harmful. Then we are willing to talk about *possible* issues. Let's look at the present state of Bobbi Kristina Brown. For the longest time we have said nothing about what the death of her mother may have done to her, right? We didn't say anything when she came out and said that she want to marry her "brother" Nick Gordon. We didn't say anything when her appearance started to change. But now-- now that she is in the hospital, possibly still in a coma, now we want to come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe she has been depressed. It isn't just the Black community, but America in general. Remember when Robin Williams died? Ernest Hemingway, his granddaughter Margot Hemingway, Dorian Gray,  Lee Thompson Young, Simone Battle, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Prinze (the dad, not the son), Phyllis Hyman, Carroll O'Connor's son Hugh... the list goes on and on. We actively ignore people's problems, problems that are noticeable, until we no longer can. At that point it is also too late to help. 

We need to sit down and have an honest conversation about mental illness in our communities. We need some innovative thinking to help those suffering. We need to make that help available, without any stigma attached. We need to make sure that we aren't just trying to "pray the crazy away," but instead we pair our prayers with love and WORK towards a plan that will help those in need. We need to insist that our brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents get help... before it is too late.

**Suicide Prevention Hotline 1.800.273.8255; Boy's Town National Hotline 1.800.443.3000; Mental Health America 1.800.969.6642**


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...