One of the most amazing parts of participating of Mental Health Justice is that I'm constantly being surprised. Because of society's attitude toward mental illness and the concomitant dysfunction of our mental health care system, many times my surprises are rooted in how far we must still go to remove stigma and how steep are the challenges of reforming the tangled web of mental health care in the United States.
Still, most of the surprises I receive are wonderful–Jasmine's Pierre's video telling us that suicide is not the way, Evan Miller telling us that watching Lori Bernstein's video stopped him from committing suicide, the incredible response to our "Light your candle" for suicide prevention campaign, the equally incredible response to our "What if" campaign and the astonishing list of people telling their stories and being bold warriors in the battle against stigma–my surprises are nearly everyday.
Earlier this week, surprise arrived like two blue birds chirping a morning song just outside my window. And these two blue birds flew in from an unlikely place–the United Kingdom.
Both socially conscious artists, Gavinder Mann and spoken word poet Rachael Nworkoro are part of a exciting social movement that's taking root in urban London. A movement of artists, ports and musicians using their art to educate society about mental illness, specifically telling their stories through words and lyrics.
Gavinder Mann, known by his artist pseudonym Gavin, is an rap/pop artist from the urban London borough of Ealing. Of Indian descent his life has been marked by, not only struggles racial discrimination, but also mental illness. Gavinder suffers from schizophrenia. He is in recovery. But four years ago, Gavinder was suffering a severe schizophrenic psychosis and became suicidal. He turned to his art for healing. One day after a long therapeutic walk, he returned home with the lyrics to Fairies committed to creative memory. As he puts it:
Then there's Rachel Nwokoro...
...a twenty something woman from London and a powerful performance artist and poet. Rachel also is part of the burgeoning London urban scene where young people are telling their mental health stories through their art.
Earlier this year, Rachel suffered the loss of a close friend to suicide. In her despair, she turned to her art and Project Semicolon. The project is dedicated to continuing the sentence of our lives has spread across the globe. The following is her powerful narrative about the sublime meaning of the semicolon and the need to end stigma.
For more poems from Rachel https://youtu.be/P-Upl1noB2w.
I love surprises and I love the joy and hope expressed in these two wonderful pieces of music and spoken word. Thank you Gavinder and thank you Rachel. Your bars and your soul are bangin!
Mental Health Justice. No stigma, no judgment. Everyone is welcome.