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Minority Mental Health Month: Why We NEED to be Part of this Movement

22 Jan 2016 — 2 min read

By Bree Figueroa


I Don’t Miss Mothers’ Day: Mourning a Mother’s Death by Suicide

Jan. 22, 2016 - My name is Bree, I am Black and Hispanic and I struggle with depression.

Minority populations need to be more involved with mental health because it is a silent killer in our communities. An unspoken truth that we rarely deal with, almost like a family secret held onto for many years just being swept under a big rug in the living room. At a young age minorities are taught to believe that we should never go to a therapist or counselor to talk about or sort out our problems. We are taught to be strong and just deal with it, the big “it” being whatever life has systematically thrown your way. I once read this piece by a woman who is black and bipolar, which said that before she addressed her mental health issues she, “thought that like mayonnaise and Celine Dion, depression was a white thing.” This is a huge problem for us.

I can remember being 11 years old, in such a dark place that I could never express myself and really feeling like no one would believe what I had to say anyway. I felt that my only way out was suicide. I am forever grateful that my mother was strong enough to say “my child needs help and I’m going to make sure she gets it.” My mother didn’t buy into the negative lies our communities are told about one thing or another, she decided to be strong for her child. That was my first encounter with therapists and learning what depression really is. I spent 6 months in a facility so I could heal and get better.

To this day I still struggle but things are different now because I know it’s ok to seek help from any and every one who is willing to help.  I speak about my issues so my communities can know this issue is important because we have lost too many to this disease. To let them know that you matter and I matter too. To let them know we need to join the momentum of this movement so no one else will be lost like Lee Thompson Young, Manuel Acuña, Phyllis Hyman, Pedro Armendáriz, Don Cornelius, Lupe Velez or even Kenny McKinley. We need to speak up so information can be passed along and we all get the help we truly need.

Bree worked in AFSP’s National Office.

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