Mental health among many other topics is one that is not widely discussed within the Black community and that is a problem. Black&Gifted is partnering with creatives to bring awareness to this issue across social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with hopes of sparking a much needed conversation.
Goals of this campaign:
- Decrease negative stigmas
- Empower individuals battling mental health to advocate for themselves
Why does mental health matter?
I think people overlook the fact that mental health is just as important as physical health. It’s such a stigma, especially in the black community. Some people are ashamed they have these issues or illnesses, because of the stigma. I was diagnosed with depression at 19, but looking back I think I dealt with it in middle and high school. I always felt like an outcast amongst my peers. I was apprehensive to tell the few friends I had and my parents that I was “feeling sad,” because I didn’t really have a logical reason for feeling that way. I didn’t understand why, so I felt how could they understand why. But when you’re depressed, most times you feel like no one really understands anyways.
I remember losing my grandmother (dad’s mom) and going through a breakup around the same time. I experienced the feeling of indifference and feeling like I had no purpose in this world for months. I experienced the feeling of not wanting to be here. I’ve tried medication, but the only thing that helped me was talking about it and taking photos. I’m naturally a writer at heart, but while going through depression I had no interest in writing at all, so I started taking photos. Photos of any and everything to express what I was feeling.
I guess that’s why most people tell me my photos tell stories. I had a conversation with my grandmother (mom’s mom) whom I was extremely close with. She told me, “God’s not finish with you yet Kiana.” I don’t know what it was, but hearing that was liberating to me, especially from someone who suffered from schizophrenia and depression for years. She told me that “we are all waiting to exhale from whatever has had us holding our breath for so long.” I know she was and it’s been two months since she completely exhaled. Your mental health matters, because you matter.
– Kiana, 22
Artist: PLVTO – Mt. Seqouyah
Just getting out my feelings and hopefully encouraging you to express yours in a positive manner as well.
Mental illness is very common in my family. Most of my aunts, uncles, mother, and my younger brother have all been diagnosed with all sorts of disorders. I myself struggle with anxiety. I say this because I am glad that my family has always been very open about mental health. I was always given the opportunity to express my emotions. That is not a typical thing for black families. I would hope that more black families start to let their loved ones be open about mental health and depression.
“I am beautiful”, I wrote in my journal 73 times one day. “Wow” was probably your first reaction because most people think of me as a beautiful individual with those hazel green eyes, honey coco skin, petite with blonde natural hair. But many don’t know that I went through depression and being self conscious about myself for awhile. I recently realized that I went through episodes of feeling down and sometimes didn’t even know why I was feeling down. Believe it or not, thoughts that would run through my head were of me not feeling pretty enough or attractive enough to my significant other. It was like negative thoughts were eating me alive no matter how much I tried to think positively. Til this day I am still overcoming my self consciousness. Yes, I’m not perfect but I believe that everything happens for a reason and problems you might face in life only makes you stronger. Positive vibes! I am Beautiful. I Love Myself. I accept myself. Stay true to self.