May is Mental Health Awareness Month and The Hip Hop Professional Foundation (HHPF) is kicking it off with “Silence the Shame” Day, a global awareness initiative created to peel back the layers of shame and stigma related to mental health. The campaign begins on Friday, May 5 and will include the support from celebrities, faith and civic leaders, key influencers and the community-at-large who will lend their support to encourage individuals who are suffering from mental illness to #silencetheshame and seek treatment and support.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to mental health services, often receive a poorer quality of mental health care and are underrepresented in mental health research.

A music industry veteran created the “Silence the Shame” initiative in 2016 after surviving her bout with depression and experiencing friends, family and colleagues battle mental health disorders. “My father committed suicide when I was seven-months-old and I held that shame over my head for years. I finally had to forgive him, talk about it and also get the help needed with my own depression,” Shanti Das of The Hip Hop Professional Foundation says in a statement. “With Silence the Shame, I hope to educate, empower and normalize the conversation around mental health.”

Celebrities participating in the “Silence the Shame” PSA include entertainment host Nick Cannon, recording artist Andra Day, movie producer Will Packer, recording artist Jeezy, comedian/actor Flex Alexander, recording artist Chloe x Halle, recording artist BBD, recording artist Stephanie Mills, actress Terri J. Vaughn, artist Estelle, 102.9 morning show host Ed Lover, R&B artist Shanice, former NFL player Takeo Spikes and R&B artist Nicci Gilbert Daniels.

HHPF will also host two local community events to continue the conversation in Atlanta, GA. On Saturday May 6th, HHPF will host a “Silence the Shame” Community Health Fair and Symposium at Jean Childs Young Middle School from 12pm – 4pm. The event will consist of a panel discussion from 2 – 4pm with mental health care professionals and members from the faith and community leaders to educate and create awareness around mental health, treatment, and the removal of stigma and shame. There will also be service providers on hand to answer questions and provide information about mental health disorders such as depression/anxiety, PTSD, postpartum and suicide prevention. The weekend will conclude with “Silence the Shame” Day at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s former church, this will be the first time the church has addressed mental health on a Sunday. More information will be shared with participating congregations about how to “Silence the Shame” on mental health in their homes and community.

Individuals and/or media interested in supporting the initiative or seeking additional information, please contact HHPF by emailing [email protected] To register for the “Silence the Shame” Community Health Fair and Symposium, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/silence-the-shame-community-mental-health-fair-symposium-tickets-693022850 .

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Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.