By Jewell Dennis
My son Dion and I were honored to have the opportunity to attend the Bebe Moore Campbell Capital Advocacy Day on June 27 in Sacramento along with other NAMI representatives from around the state. Each year, this event commemorates July as “Bebe Campbell Moore National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month”. Bebe Campbell Moore was a champion for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities. She was a leading African-American author and co-founded NAMI Urban Los Angeles. In 2003, she received NAMI’s “Outstanding Media Award for Literature” and two years after her 2006 death, the U.S. House of Representatives enacted the proclamation designating July as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
After a brief preparation session conducted by NAMI California staff, we visited our state legislators to discuss the fact that minority California communities are more underserved when it comes to mental health services than the population at large, and that this disparity needs to be addressed.
This experience was particularly moving for me because I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with Bebe Moore Campbell in 1991, before mental illness impacted our immediate families. Bebe Moore Campbell believed that the United States needed a national campaign to de-stigmatize mental illness, and that it especially needed to target African-Americans , a need which is just as relevant today.