Maia Campbell's Struggle Helps Raise Awareness

Published October 8, 2009

Recent Web video footage that shocked and broke hearts may be an opportunity for the Black community to learn more about mental illness, experts say.

Since actress Maia Campbell was videotaped in a fast-talking, profanity-filled rant while in a car that’s driven away by a man who she suggests will beat her, an outpouring of concern has occurred. The daughter of late author Bebe Moore Campbell, Maia has reportedly begun treatment for mental illness since her agitated behavior gave fans and concerned supporters of her apparent struggle.

“Maia has been public about her own and her family’s battle with schizophrenia,” Dr. Jeff Gardere writes at TheGrio.com.       

A Black psychologist and frequent talk show guest, Gardere describes the controversial Web video as a “red flag that she is in need of professional help.”

“Obviously, this is no laughing matter…there are plenty of other Maias out there – men, women, young and old – who suffer silently or act out in front of others,” Gardere writes. “They need help, but are too sick or scared to get it.”

Experts have long suggested that the Black community is particularly vulnerable to suffering mental afflictions due to factors that include:

 ·        Cultural upbringing – Failing to recognize misbehavior that has roots in mental or emotional instability often leads parents to discipline children rather than seeking treatment for them.

·        Shame – Fear of being called “crazy” is a heavy burden on Blacks who have long fought for acceptance and advancement in America.

·        Health care – Lack of insurance may prohibit poor Blacks from being able to afford counseling, medication, or even psychological assessment.

“The negative, funny Twitter comments must cease, and we should instead turn our energies to helping Maia and people like her by reaching into the darkness of their mental illness and guiding them towards the light of treatment and healing,” Gardere adds.

A statement to Essence.com attributed to Campbell’s father and grandmother concurs, urging that “you not only pray for Maia’s wellness, but also commit to understanding this insidious disease which is devastating our loved ones and community.”

For information about addressing mental illness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness Web site www.NAMI.org.

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Written by Eddie B. Allen Jr.

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