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 "Once my loved one accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can't we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans. The message must go on billboards and in radio and TV public service announcements. It must be preached from pulpits and discussed in community forums. It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."

--Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005

About Bebe Moore Campbell and the Month

Bebe Moore Campbell was an accomplished author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006.

She received NAMI's 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature (see works below). Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.

In 2005, inspired by Campbell’s charge to eliminate stigma and provide mental health information, longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort. When Campbell reacted with, “You can’t just do that,” Wharton-Boyd responded, “Claim it!” And together they did.

The duo got to work, outlining the concept of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and what it would entail. With the support of the D.C. Department of Mental Health and then-mayor Anthony Williams, they held a news conference in Southeast D.C., where they encouraged residents to get mental health checkups. Support continued to build as Campbell and Wharton-Boyd held book signings, spoke in churches and created a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce of friends and allies.

However, the effort came to a halt when Campbell became too ill to continue. When Campbell lost her battle to cancer, Wharton-Boyd and a cadre of friends, family and ally advocates reignited their cause, fueled by the passion to honor the life of an extraordinary woman.

The taskforce members researched and obtained the support of Representatives Albert Wynn [D-MD] and Diane Watson [D-CA], who cosigned legislation to create an official minority mental health awareness month.

 

In May 2008 the US House of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group, was passed in recognition that:

  • Improved access to mental health treatment and services and public awareness of mental illness are of paramount importance; and
  • An appropriate month should be recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.

 

Bebe Moore Campbell's literary work includes:

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, written especially for children, portrays the story a young girl who learns how to cope with her mother's bipolar illness.

  

72-Hour Hold is a novel focused on an adult daughter and a family's experience with the onset of mental illness. It shades light on the struggle not just with the illness, but with the healthcare system as well.

 

Highlights of Activities 

2013

Planning and Celebration Webinar Events

In this fifth year NAMI has partnered with the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED) to promote and celebrate National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month:

  • Our Strength and Support: Celebrating National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July)
    A panel of inspiring presenters share their perspectives on mental health in minority communities, emphasizing the strengths of our cultural communities to come together to find support and carry a banner of hope for all individuals touched by mental illness. Presenters: Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, Representing the 32nd District of California; Bassey Ikpi, The Siwe Project and Ramey Ko, Partner at Jung Ko, PLLC; Associate Judge at Austin Municipal Court.

Access the recording and slides 

  • History and Highlights: Learn about National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (April)  
    Learn about how Bebe Moore Campbell inspired this special month and examples of what you can do to help celebrate. Presenters: Dr. Linda Wharton Boyd, Special Assistant, DC Department of Health and Elicia Goodsoldier, NAMI Colorado Board of Directors

Access the recording and slides

  • Are You Ready? Planning and Preparing for National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (May)
    Already have an idea or plan for July? Find out about customizable resources and concrete examples of activities from previous years. Presenters: Cecily Rodriguez, Director, Office of Cultural Competence, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and Marin Swesey, Program Manager, NAMI Multicultural Action Center

 Access the recording and slides

2012

Highlight Reel

 

Click to watch the video created with appreciation for all who joined us in ways big and small to help spread the word about National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and take action in 2012. 

 


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