The Colorado Black Health Collaborative is having our first fundraising gala. However, this is more than a mere fund-raiser. This event is about raising awareness, educating, engaging, and de-stigmatizing mental health in our community. Shedding and shredding mental health stigma is a community affair. Everyone needs to be engaged because mental health stigma is still very prominent in the Black community – folks not wanting to be viewed as “crazy”. Folks not believing that mental health is a health concern and folks viewing those with depression as weak. Because Black people are supposed to be strong – weather any storm, “never let them see you sweat”, and certainly never air the dirty laundry in public.
However, the fact is that most of us have been touched in some way by mental illness, whether it is ourselves, a family member, or a close friend. By nature of living in America—-with racism- the stress of being Black in America, poverty, chronic illnesses, we can’t help but be touched. So many microaggressions, people messing with you just because they can, wears on us. All these factors put us at risk for mental illness. Though we wear our masks, these things take a toll on our psyche.
On Sunday, October 21, 2018, Colorado Black Health Collaborative is bringing Jenifer Lewis, the “Mother of Black Hollywood”, to town. First and foremost, we are featuring her because she has been very open about her bipolar illness. “Ain’t no shame in her game.” She is working to educate and bust the stigma. She will be singing, dancing, and dropping some dimes about mental health at this signature event.
Bipolar disorder is a treatable condition where a person can go from feeling very, very high (super spending, super sexed, etc. – mania) to very, very low ( super sad, down-depression). Although, the reported rate of bipolar disorder is the same for African Americans as Whites, African Americans are less likely to receive a diagnosis and treatment. Some of the reasons we go un-diagnosed are:
- Stigma and misunderstanding about mental illness.
- Focusing on physical problems, rather than discussing mental concerns or masking symptoms with drugs or alcohol.
- Mistrust of health professionals, based on historical injustices in the health care system.
- Cultural gaps between doctors/ medical providers, therapists and the patients.
- Relying on ministers, family, or friends, rather than mental health professionals during times of serious emotional distress or symptoms suggesting mental illness.
- Social economic factors that limit health and mental health care access.
The second reason that we wanted Ms. Lewis, the star of Black-ish, to grace our stage is because — laughter is good medicine, good for your health, good for your SOUL! Jenifer Lewis is going to make us laugh. This actress with over 300 film, movie, and stage appearances under her belt, is going to make us laugh. You know that hyperventilating, breathless, fall on the floor type of laughter. That is what she will be bringing to this event. Though we will be laughing she will be serving up some serious perspectives about mental health in our community. Because mental health in the Black community, is no joking matter. African Americans are more likely to report psychological distress, but only 1 in 3 who need mental care receive it. African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and more likely to have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our youth are experiencing increased suicide rates. We do not need to suffer in silence and alone. In most cases, mental health issues are treatable. We really need to normalize the fact that mental health can occur and does occur just like physical disease. And yes, sometimes medications are needed to treat the mental health condition. Find a therapist that is right for you. Talk therapy can also go a long way.
You do not want to miss this event, for all the reasons that have been mentioned previously. The Colorado Black Health Collaborative Gala really embraces our mission – to achieve health equity in Colorado’s Black community as well as our purpose, to ensure that our community is BLACK and HEALTHY – mind, body, and soul. Black and Healthy is not an oxymoron, we want this to be our mantra and our calling card.
Black and Healthy, Black and Healthy, Black and Healthy, Black and Healthy!
Go to the Colorado Black Health Collaborative’s website: www.coloradoblackhealth.org and get your ticket. Tell a friend, neighbor, co-worker, and all of Colorado that you are getting your ticket to this fabulous event that promises to engage, entertain, and educate. You don’t have to live in Metro Denver to attend. The hotel rate is discounted for this event. Don’t be late, remember the date. Get your ticket know. Tickets are going fast. Get yours today!
Mental Health Resources
For more information on this important issue, go to these websites:
By: CBHC Staff