Minority Mental Health Advocate: Shanti Das
"Minority mental health matters to me because in my community, it is still so taboo to discuss it." -Shanti
Tell us about the work you do and how you got started.
I came up with the idea for Silence the Shame in 2015, but I didn't formally launch it until in May of this year. It is the mental health initiative from my Hip Hop Professional Foundation. We have held several mental health symposiums and did a huge social media campaign on May 5th that garnered over 90 million impressions. Our programming for the next few years will include panel discussions to help normalize the conversation, social media campaigns, college programs, educational workshops, and more. We also have a podcast that is on iTunes under the Silence the Shame name. In addition, we will produce more celebrity PSAs and content for the community.
Why does minority mental health matter to you?
Minority mental health matters to me because in my community, it is still so taboo to discuss it. My dad was from India and my mom is African American. I was raised in an all African American community, and people did not talk about mental health. Even now, it seems that many are still afraid to face these issues head-on. What so many don't understand is that help is there and it is possible to lead a successful life. There are so many levels of mental health and I want to do my part to raise awareness.
What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that it is okay to get therapy. Losing a father to suicide at such a young age (7 months) was devastating to me. It took me years to understand it, and then even more years to forgive my father and know that I would eventually learn to deal with this. By not going to therapy, it caused me to struggle with depression as an adult.