A key to ending the stigma in the Black community against seeking treatment for mental health is to create safe spaces for discussion. There’s a movement underway to do that.

Nikki Webber Allen, famous for her TED Talk on mental illness, has launched I Live For, a nonprofit that provides a platform to address mental illness and break the cultural barrier, the Washington Post reported.

The rapper Logic’s performance of “1-800-272-8255” at the MTV Video Music Awards inspired Allen to create the organization. Logic’s rap about suicide encouraged scores of teens suffering with illnesses, like depression and trauma, to call for help. That performance and a personal tragedy led Allen to focus the organization’s programs on Black teens.

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“It’s not that people don’t want to talk about this,” she told the Post. “The issue is they want to talk about it in a safe space.”

Safe spaces are very much needed. African-Americans have traditionally suffered in silence about mental illness—often viewed as a weakness that’s best treated with prayer. That approached has contributed to a surprising surge of suicides among Black children aged 5 to 11, between 1993 and 2012, according to the Post.

There appears to be a growing movement to create safe spaces to talk about mental illness in the community.

In some cases, Black millennials are leading the way. Elyse Fox, a 27-year-old filmmaker, launched Sad Girls Club to help young women struggling with depression.

Community organizations are also gathering to address mental health. For example, several groups met in August for Black Mental Health Matters at the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center in Charlottesville.

And in Mansfield, Ohio, a community town hall meeting addressed mental health in their community, looking for a way to end the stigma and inform residence about resources.

SOURCE:  Washington Post

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