“We’re encouraging people to tend to their mental health that day without shame,” Ikpi said. Well July 2, and the entire month, are now behind us, but the quest for mental health wellness is an ongoing one. But when it comes to communities of color, the stigma surrounding mental health issues makes the fight to normalize and legitimize mental illness, let alone seek help, that much harder.
It’s easy to feel alone when so few people talk about mental illness. Disgrasian’s Jen Wang wrote a moving post about her experiences:
Even though I witnessed it in various family members, I didn’t even know growing up that depression had its own name. Instead it was called “not trying hard enough,” “not working hard enough,” “not achieving enough,” “being lazy,” “lacking decorum,” “lacking pride,” “losing self-control,” “not caring enough about what other people think,” “embarrassing your family,” “selfish,” “rude,” “failure.” All of the language I heard to describe what I would only later understand to be mental illness made it clear you could always “work” your way out of it-alone, naturally, because you didn’t want to bother other people with your problems-and if you couldn’t, well, you had no one but yourself to blame.