'Black Brain Campaign' addresses mental health in African American community

One organization is hoping to increase awareness for mental health in the African American community and make sure people have the care they need.

“I graduated from college, I had a job and a two-parent household," Akilah Abdul-Rahman told FOX 29.

Akilah,29, says still she felt like there was a black cloud following her everywhere she went.

“There was a hole that I just couldn’t fill that was like this inner deep sadness,” she said. She thought about seeking therapy but was concerned about what people would think.

"I was kind of afraid of people saying I was crazy or that I was weak,” she said. But she remembers clearly the day in her early 20s when she couldn't hold in what she was feeling anymore.

“I was on vacation with my friends. We were on the beach. We were just having girl talk and I was starting to describe to them some of the things that were abnormal in my mental state,” said Akilah. She says her friends encouraged her to seek help addressing her mental health.

 "Before I thought of someone who was like schizophrenic or had bi-polar something that was obviously clearly wrong with them and I thought that counseling was for those people," said Akilah.

Therapists Farida Boyer and Jaynay Johnson say that's a common fear, especially in the black community.

"We realized there was a just a deficit with people of color going to therapy and seeking treatment," said Johnson.  So three years ago they started the "Black Brain Campaign" to break the stigma and make people feel comfortable sharing their stories and getting help.

"What happens is when we were raised if you were taught what happens in this house stays in this house more than likely you're not going to go tell a stranger what happened in this house," said Boyer. They focus on outreach in communities and schools to help save lives deteriorating because of unaddressed mental health challenges.

Farida is Akilah's therapist and has helped her deal with depression she never addressed.

"Everybody needs someone to talk to. It's not a person here that has not experienced some sort of trauma," said Farida.

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