Minority Mental Health Month: Bebe Campbell Moore

Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans...It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.
— Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005

This is Maia Campbell with her mother, Bebe Moore Campbell. Earlier this month, footage of Maia, in-crisis, circulated the web. I want you to know how this mother fought for her daughter, and why we have this black mother to thank for National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. 

In May of 2008, the US House of Representatives announce July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

With bipartisan support, the resolution was set to achieve two goals:

  • Improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness.
  • Name a month as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.

More about Maia and Bebe

Bebe Moore Campbell was an author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006.

She received NAMI's 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature. Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.

In 2005, inspired by Campbell’s charge to end stigma and provide mental health information, longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort. 

The duo got to work, outlining the concept of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and what it would entail. With the support of the D.C. Department of Mental Health and then-mayor Anthony Williams, they held a news conference in Southeast D.C., where they encouraged residents to get mental health checkups.

When Campbell lost her battle to cancer, Wharton-Boyd, friends, family and allied advocates reignited their cause, inspired by the passion of the life of an extraordinary woman.

Maia Campbell is a former actress and the daughter of the late Bebe Moore Campbell. Her mother wrote several books, 2 of which focused on mental health. Her children’s book, Sometimes Mommy Gets Angry, describes how a little girl copes with her mother’s mental illness. The novel, 72 Hour Hold, focuses on a mother’s fight to save her daughter who suffers from bipolar disorder.

The world soon discovered how Campbell wrote from her own experiences when daughter Maia's trouble went public. At some point things took a turn, and  Maia’s repeated issues with drug abuse, run ins with the law, and her mental illness (bipolar disorder) have taken center stage. Maia’s tendency to self-medicate isn’t that uncommon and newsflash, neither is mental illness in African Americans.

Maia's strongest advocate appeared to be her mother, Bebe - a woman for whom an entire nation would view as their strongest advocate.

Moore-Campbell didn't live to see this month come to fruition, or to see her daughter's healing. What she left behind was a legacy of advocacy. 

If you're interested in learning how you can help yourself or a loved one, here are some resources:



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