The stigma that surrounds mental health is not exclusive to any one particular group of people. However culture and race does play a role in how it’s viewed in many cases. This past weekend, Actor/Producer Stacy Ann Buchanan premiered her documentary film, The Blind Stigma at the Royal Cinema in Toronto, Canada. It was a project she took on to shed light on the issues surrounding the stigma associated with mental health issues in the Black community.
It was such a powerful film that will hopefully inspire conversation within the black community. The future of mental health has a lot to do with how people handle those affected by it today. It’s never easy for a person who struggles with it, to come to terms with what they’re going through. Acknowledging there is an issue and providing the tools and a support system are some of the key ways forward.
“If you really know me, you’d know at the core of who I am, I’m a survivor,” -Pauleanna Reid
Pauleanna Reid, who is a Best-selling author, speaker and writer shared her story in The Blind Stigma. She spoke candidly about her failed suicide attempt two times and how her past is what has helped shaped her into the woman she is today. It was just one of many intimate stories shared in the film that truly broke the mold of what the face of mental health looks like.
Bridget ‘Bee’ Quammie, was the Host at the film’s premier and she spoke before the film screened saying that the future is empowered by “being brave enough to move through life’s challenges”. That’s exactly what all the people profiled in the film did. Not only did Buchanan profile others but she featured herself in the documentary and was vulnerable throughout by sharing her own personal experience with anxiety, depression and suicide. She says the fear of not being successful upon her return from Vancouver to pursue a career in acting made her severely depressed. She acknowledged her father in the film as being a part of the ‘stigma’ because of his initial reactions to her mental health and anxiety issues. I thought it was amazing that he was willing to open himself up and share his thoughts in the film.
The others in the film were Freddy King, Chivon John, and Lisa Gibson. Each had their own stories and experiences to share that were brutally honest. Being the only male in the film, Freddy King, touched on what it’s like to be a black man and what’s expected of him. He spoke of how maintaining a persona of being strong is one that can be difficult when struggling silently with depression. Naturally men are taught to be strong, like ‘lions’ but it’s difficult when you’re suffering inside. Dr. Natasha Browne addressed the issues for black men saying a lot of the problem is because they are conditioned not to share their emotions and to keep up this ideal image of strength. They are taught to be strong and don’t see out help.
Buchanan did a great job as a first-time filmmaker in covering an issue that continues to plague not only the Black community but so many people worldwide. Mental health is not a new issue but it’s finally getting the recognition it needs as an illness. The Blind Stigma touches on the heart and emotions of the matter through personal, relatable stories. She weaved in the views of a doctor, pastor and people on the street to create a balanced picture on the issue.
It’s an excellent film and if you ever have a chance to see it, I suggest you do.
For more information on the film visit www.theblindstigma.com