Mental illness is a leading cause of disability, yet nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment and people of color in the U.S. are even less likely to get help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
The Siwe Project, a group that works to promote mental health awareness in the global black community, is organizing the first annual No Shame Day today and giving people around the world a neutral forum to discuss mental health.
The SIWE Project describes No Shame Day: >The Siwe Project, a global non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health awareness throughout the international black community is launching a campaign that focuses on stigma reduction through storytelling and community building. The first annual No Shame Day is an opportunity for people around the world to rally around mental health care. The Siwe Project website will host candid discussions about mental illness stigma, diagnoses, and treatment options. The purpose of No Shame Day is to encourage more people to seek treatment without shame.
Siwe Monsanto, The Siwe Project’s namesake, would have been sixteen on March 8th of this year. Instead, she chose to take her own life on June 29, 2011. It was Siwe’s suicide that prompted Bassey Ikpi, a family friend, to found the non-profit. As a mental health advocate and a noted writer, Ikpi has maintained a transparent look into her own life with Bipolar II Disorder. “The aim is to create community. People with illness forging with those who support or have loved ones with an illness,” says Ikpi. The Siwe Project believes that sharing stories not only fosters individual healing, but community transformation. The Siwe Project strategically uses new media to cultivate safe spaces to share new stories. Additionally, the organization works to widen the public dialogue regarding the experiences of people of African descent living with mental illness.
No Shame Day will be held on July 2, the first Monday of National Minority Mental Health Month. We are asking people to publicly share their mental health journeys or speak as allies for loved ones in their lives. Individuals can log on to The Siwe Project website and participate in the ongoing conversation about self-care and mental health options.”We’re encouraging people to tend to their mental health that day without shame,” Ikpi explains. On No Shame Day people are encouraged to unabashedly seek out community in order to empower their quest for mental health wellness.