Tuesday, August 17, 2010
THE PRETTY FACE OF MENTAL HEALTH
Actress Maia Campbell, once thought to be one of the most beautiful and promising young African-American entertainers, is now (allegedly) addicted to crack, and meth, and also prostituting herself. Maia found fame alongside singer Tyrese, as leading lady in the video "Sweet Lady". She also co-starred along with LL Cool J in the 90's sitcom "In The House". Maia was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Bi-polar disorder in her late teens. She like many others could not commit to daily pharmaceutical medication. It's said that she began treatment, and did well for a while with the assistance of her mother (reminding her to take her medicine, keeping track of her progress..). Unfortunately when her mother died in 2006, it began a downward spiral for Maia. She was no longer taking her medication, she began to abuse drugs and alcohol to self medicate. Maia soon found herself completely out of control. The people around her began exploiting her by recording videos of her, in what appears to be a drug induced state, taking pictures of her nude and under the influence, and publishing them on the Internet. While her current condition is unknown, there are several conflicting reports. Some reports state that since her arrest in July 2010 she had a stay in rehab and is doing better with the help of her father and grandmother, other reports state that she is back to prostituting and drug use on the streets of LA.
It saddens me not only that she is suffering from a number of mental illnesses and has gone untreated for some time, but the fact that she is surrounded by people whom either don't understand or don't care about her illness.
American Idol winner, Fantasia Barrino is the most recent victim of an alleged suicide attempt. It is alleged that she overdosed on pills, and was found in the closet of her home by her manager. She was then rushed to the hospital and was treated for an overdose. This incident came after reports that Fantasia was being sued by her long time boyfriend Antwaun Cooks' wife. His wife had also reported that she was in possession of sex tapes with Fantasia and her husband. Fantasia is no stranger to media drama. Back in 2008 Fantasia made media headlines when her house was allegedly up for foreclosure for back taxes owed. Fantasia is the mother of 1, and I wish her a speedy recovery and hope she gets the medical attention needed for issues she may be facing.
Phyllis Hyman, a talented singer and actress, whose career spanned for more than 20 years became the face of suicide amongst black women in 1995. While we may have looked at her as a success story, she felt differently about her life. Phyllis took her life in her New York City apartment in 1995. She was found hours before she was scheduled to appear at The Apollo Theater. She left behind a suicide note starting by saying "I'm tired, I'm tired...". Many speculated her death was due to feelings of loneliness and her inability to find a "good man". However, it goes much deeper than that.
Phyllis had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder ten year prior to her suicide. She like many others suffering from mental health diseases, was not diagnosed until adulthood, and declined pharmaceutical medication. In her choosing to self medicate, she ultimately made her disease worse, and suffered the grave consequence that many do, thinking they can fight mental health diseases alone.
Check out some of the statistics.
• An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year
• In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada.3 Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders, with severity strongly related to co morbidity
• More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.
• Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
Mental health and addiction are often tolerated and go untreated within the Black and Caribbean community. This disease affects millions each year including entertainers, mothers, children, men, teens, anyone. We have somehow made addiction and mental health diseases a "normal" part of our life, and sometimes don't know how to recognize signs of a potentially fatal problem. Ignorance is the biggest killer when it comes to these diseases. It is important to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms if you think a loved one may be mentally ill or have a dependency issue with drugs or alcohol. Not seeking medical attention leads to "self-medication" which can range from alcoholism and drug abuse to suicide. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from a mental illness contact your local health care facility.