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Best-Selling Author Explores Mental Illness in Her New Novel

June 2005

Best-selling author Bebe Moore Campbell read from her new book, 72 Hour Hold, at the 2005 NAMI Convention in Austin, Texas on Monday, June 20. The book, dedicated in part to her Los Angeles-area affiliate, NAMI-Inglewood, tells the story of Keri and her daughter, Trina, who has bipolar disorder. Keri struggles to come to terms with her daughter's mental illness and find treatment and support for herself and her daughter while navigating the mental-health system.

Ms. Campbell, a co-founder of her NAMI affiliate, a Family-to-Family trainer and 2003 NAMI award winner, relates in the July issue of Essence magazine that she "was inspired by my own journey as the family member of a person with a mental illness. My experience with my loved one, as well as the experiences of others grappling with the same issues provided adequate research." 72 Hour Hold is Ms. Campbell's fifth novel; it deals with not only mental illness but race relations and family dynamics as well. In a starred review, Publisher's Weekly states that Ms. Campbell "gives Keri's actions and decisions compelling depth and detail, and makes Trina's illness palpable."

Ms. Campbell's novel examines one family's struggles with mental illness from an African American perspective. Speaking about the stigma attached to mental illness in the African American community, Ms. Campbell tells Essence that, "We need to give up the closet regarding mental illness. There is help available, but only if folks admit they need it."

In the novel, Keri and Trina both realize that there are no quick fixes for Trina's bipolar disorder, but that if it is managed, she can have a full life. Ms. Campbell stresses, "It's critical that people with mental illness obtain a correct diagnosis. Proper medication can manage many symptoms."

To purchase a copy of Ms. Campbell's novel, visit the NAMI Store.


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