BLACK MILLENNIALS FIGHTING THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS

I just read a great article in The Huffington Post about three young black people who are using the Internet to fight stigma against mental illness in the black community and in society at large. One man has schizophrenia and the two women have depression. One of the women also has anxiety. All are speaking openly and courageously about their experiences to help reduce the stigma of having a mental illness.

Elyse Fox, one of the women portrayed in the article, has started Sad Girls Club, which meets in real life and has a beautiful website. The site has a lot of information on different mental illnesses, coping skills, and inspirational material. While some of the information is not scientifically based (like a discussion of astrology), there is much here that can be helpful. If you want to try any of the herbs discussed on the Sad Girls Club site, please check with your doctor first. I’m speaking from experience on this one. I tried St. John’s Wort, which is supposed to be an herbal antidepressant, while also on my prescribed antidepressant. It made me feel shaky and anxious. I think I was showing early signs of serotonin syndrome, which can be a serious side effect of antidepressants. Being a nurse, I should have known better than to use both, and I should have discussed it with my doctor. In any case, the Sad Girls Club website is definitely worth checking out.

For those of you with artistic tastes, Kirsty Latoya has a website featuring her artwork, some of which she uses to illustrate how depression and anxiety feel to her. Some of her pictures are displayed in the Huffington Post article with narratives underneath them telling about her experiences with mental illness. She’s a very talented artist. She also has a mental health blog.

Nay Clarke, the man portrayed in the Huffington Post article, was first diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar tendencies. His diagnosis was later changed to schizophrenia. (One of the problems with mental health care is that it isn’t an exact science. I often saw clients with several diagnoses because various doctors “labelled” them differently). Nay has a website where he discusses how he’s feeling and where he offers insightful, and sometimes profane, words of wisdom (i.e.,”Too many people hearing, not enough listening” and “Forget being on bad terms with people, that shit is tiring”).

They are doing their part to decrease mental health stigma. Does stigma affect your life? What do you do about it?

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