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Bebe Moore Campbell: A Mental Health Trailblazer

Bebe Moore Campbell was a best-selling author, journalist, and teacher trained in The

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family education program. After a storied career as a journalist, writing for publications such as Essence, Ebony, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, she transitioned into the world of fiction writing in the 1990s. Her work often sought to dispel the stereotypes of Black people. She was a champion in showcasing the duality of Black women and most of her novels’ protagonists were high-earning and ambitious.

Her transition to the subject of mental health took place in 2003, when she released her first children’s book Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, which highlights a young girl’s journey of living with her mentally ill mother.The book went on to earn her an Outstanding Media Award for Literature from NAMI. In 2005, she released The 72-Hour Hold, a novel that explores bipolar disorder. Which helped educate people that the struggle often is not just with the illness, but with the healthcare system as well. The New York Times described her as being “part of the first wave of Black novelists who made the lives of upwardly mobile Black people a routine subject for popular fiction.” She went on to be a founding member of NAMI-Inglewood, today called NAMI Urban Los Angeles.

Campbell utilized her acclaim to advocate on behalf of the organization by speaking out against the stigma often associated with mental illness in communities of color, promoting treatment, and family education. In 2005 she also decided to push for getting more awareness for minority mental by creating National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and after outlining the concept she assembled a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce to help push it through to legislation. In an unfortunate turn of events in 2006 she was diagnosed with brain cancer and became too ill to continue on her work eventually passing at the age of 56 on November 27, 2006, in Los Angeles. However her vision lived on and with the continued efforts of her taskforce Tthe U.S. House of Representatives designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, in her honor in 2008. It was through Bebe and many others’ dedication that mental health in minority communities was able to reach a national platform and opened up a lane for sites like BlkSpace Therapy to exist. It aimed to focus on the need to improve access to mental health treatment, promote public awareness of mental illness, primarily within minority communities.

By Kevin J.

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