National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was started in 2008. It’s been ten years since its inception and looking back over the last several years, this movement is making progress. Each year there are events, usually traumatic in nature, that call attention to mental health issues. In an effort to remove the stigma which has historically kept people silent and unable to access support, the media has begun shining light on celebrities who are speaking out. We have also seen major network television shows tackling the topic. In April of 2018, Essence published an article highlighting Black entertainers who’ve publicly acknowledged their journeys with mental health. In 19 Celebrities Who Have Struggled with Mental Illness and Depression, we are given a glimpse at reality and lays beneath the glitz and glamour.
In the last decade our access to information has truly turned the conversation about mental health on its head. Social media has allowed us to reach from our sofas around the world, sharing stories, listening and allowing our voices to be heard. And the youth and young adults of our time are not afraid to be themselves and document their lives. We are no longer in our houses hiding our dirty secrets pretending that all is well when it’s not. In our current culture, everything is out in the open and honestly, that’s great for the mental health community.
As with every generation new inventions bring with it huge changes which impact everything about our lives. Television changed the lives and way the baby boomers viewed the world. It was television which allowed audiences to see musicians they might never catch live. For decades we’ve absorbed a great deal of our lives from media and television. We’ve allowed it to inform our lives in nearly every way. What’s fascinating is everything we’ve learned from media has been filtered through the powers that created and constructed every moment of television programming. This alone has given us slivers of truth and seems to capture incomplete human experiences. The creation of social media has allowed people to tell their own stories, unscripted, present moment, and authentic truth.
Now that we have tools to spread personal stories about mental health, the challenges and victories, let’s get bolder. One of the more impactful ways of spreading the word and ending the stigma is to consider documenting your journey. You see that you’re not alone and others are here virtually walking with you and supporting you. And if you aren’t ready or interested in documenting your journey, you can follow someone who is already doing that and learn from them.
We are living in changing times. What once limited us and now giving us access to real people and their stories. In ten years, the advent of social media and generations who have grown up using it, are not afraid to tell their truth. And social media allows us to see what’s really happening before it’s edited and sent to the chopping block by executives at the network.