"Once my loved ones 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...It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."
–Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
In May of 2008, the US House of Representatives announce July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group to achieve two goals:
- Improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness.
- Name a month as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.
About Bebe Moore Campbell
Bebe Moore Campbell was an 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. Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.
In 2005, inspired by Campbell’s charge to end stigma and provide mental health information, longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort.
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, friends, family and allied advocates reignited their cause, inspired by the passion of the life of an extraordinary woman.
The group researched and obtained the support of Representatives Albert Wynn [D-MD] and Diane Watson [D-CA], who co-signed legislation to create an official minority mental health awareness month.