Natasha J. Thomas, MD
July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month
Updated: Jul 11, 2021
Bebe Moore Campbell (Feb 18, 1950 - Nov 27, 2006) was an American author. She was also a tireless mental health warrior and advocate. Inspired by her daughter's struggles with mental illness, Bebe founded the Inglewood, California chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In 2008, the US House of Representatives designated July as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, due to her efforts. The aim of this awareness month is to advance mental health care access, equity, and understanding for and amongst Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
This blog post is written in Bebe's memory.
Author. Mother. Mental Health Advocate.
Elizabeth Bebe Moore was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the only child of George and Doris Moore. After graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls, she was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh where she earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. Bebe briefly taught in both Atlanta and Washington, D.C. However, after enrolling in a Toni Cade Bambara writers' course, she began to pursue a career as an author.
It was a successful career, indeed. Bebe authored eight books, three of which became New York Times Bestsellers. Her book, Your Blues Ain't Like Mine, was recognized as a New York Times Notable Book in 1992. It also happens to be my favorite book by Ms. Moore Campbell.
On November 26, 1976, Bebe gave birth to her daughter, Maia. In the early 1990s, Maia rose to fame for her roles in the the Fox comedy-drama South Central and the NBC sitcom In the House, where she played Tiffany Warren. In her roles, Maia stood out for her quick wit and striking beauty. However, behind-the-scenes, Maia was struggling with the emerging symptoms of bipolar disorder. Bebe worked to not only support her daughter through her mental health journey, she became a fierce mental health advocate with the desire to create a safe space for people in her local community, a predominately Black community, to discuss their struggles with mental illness. She aimed to create a space for information, support, and a place free of shame.
Though Bebe passed away in 2006, before her passing, she succeeded in her goal of enhancing mental health awareness. She accomplished this goal through her writings, her novel, 72-Hour Hold, and her successful campaign to have the US House of Representatives designate July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (now referred to as BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month to include Indigenous communities and people of color).
Hear more here:
Bebe: In Her Own Words
Some people reading this post have experienced mental health concerns, or have tried to navigate the frustrations of the mental health system for affected loved ones. In this video, Bebe reads from her novel, 72-Hour Hold, and shares her experience:
How You Can Participate
Whether you are part of a racial minority group in the US or not, everyone has a part to play in supporting this awareness month. There is no doubt, and in fact there is ample evidence that reveals, culture impacts mental health understanding, treatment, and access to care. In addition, racism and racial trauma negatively affects the mental wellness of those impacted. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has provided numerous resources to continue to advance the mission of Bebe Moore Campbell and others advocating for the mentally ill in our communities. Feel free to visit their page for the following resources:
Stories of Mental Health Challenges in the Underrepresented:
Spread Awareness with Hashtags:
Spread Awareness with Social Media Graphics:
Mental Health Awareness Resources | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness