Honoring Bebe and Her Work Around Mental Health
Updated: Jul 26
July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (more recently referred to as BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month).
Bebe Moore Campbell was a Brilliant Black award-winning author, journalist, activist, teacher and tireless advocate for mental health. This month acknowledges her work to create a national campaign that would serve to destigmatize mental illness and advocate for treatment and increased education for underserved communities, particularly within the Black community. Sadly, Bebe passed away from complications from brain cancer at the age of 56 in 2006 before she was able to see this goal realized. However, her work lived on and in 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in her honor.
Today, mental health continues to be an important issue in the Black community. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 16% of Black Americans or about 7 million people experience some form of mental illness and are more likely to report higher feelings of helplessness and sadness than white adults. Due in large part to harsh socioeconomic disparities and the lack of access to quality healthcare, Black health continues to suffer. Black Americans are also less likely to seek treatment due to the stigma that is attached to needing help and this lack of treatment can be extremely damaging, particularly for Black women.
That is why Bebe Moore Campbell’s work is still so important and serves as an inspiration and foundation for BROWN GIRL jane. Our mission is to support the health and wellness of Black women and women of color, because sisterhood and community is at the root of everything we do.
As we work to support you on your wellness journey (because it is in fact a journey), we hope that you will check-in with yourself to ensure you are addressing your own mental health needs. Tap into your self-care toolkit. Everyday, ask yourself how you are feeling. Are you tired? What will make you happy? Be sure to seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed. And as the saying goes, be sure to also check-in on your strong friend to see how she is doing.
The more our community talks about mental health, the stronger we will all be. Thank you Bebe for giving us the space to say that this conversation is not only OK, but vital - because our wellness is our responsibility. As Campbell once stated, “when we finally stop asking America to love us and begin to love ourselves, we will prosper as a people.” And so together, let us do just that.