The Siwe Project, a global non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health awareness throughout the international Black community is launching a campaign that focuses on stigma reduction through storytelling and community building.
The first annual No Shame Day is an opportunity for people around the world to rally around mental health care. The Siwe Project website will host candid discussions about mental illness stigma, diagnoses, and treatment options. The purpose of No Shame Day is to encourage more people to seek treatment without shame.
Siwe Monsanto, The Siwe Project’s namesake, would have been twenty on March 8th of this year. Instead, she chose to take her own life on June 29, 2011. It was Siwe’s suicide that prompted Bassey Ikpi, a family friend, to found the non-profit. As a mental health advocate and a noted writer, Ikpi has maintained a transparent look into her own life with Bipolar II Disorder. She has chronicled her mental health journey for a variety of media outlets both in the United States and Africa.
“The aim is to create community and provide support. People who live with illness forging with those who support or have loved ones with an illness,” says Ikpi. The Siwe Project believes that sharing stories not only fosters individual healing, but community transformation. The Siwe Project strategically uses new media to cultivate safe spaces to share new stories. Additionally, the organization works to widen the public dialogue regarding the experiences of people of African descent living with mental illness.
How To Be A Part Of #NOSHAMEDAY
We are asking people to publicly share their mental health journeys or speak as allies for loved ones in their lives. Individuals are encouraged to participate by telling their personal stories via social media outlets (Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, etc.) as well as live panel and open mic events in select cities. They are also urged to use No Shame Day as the opportunity to take their first steps towards mental health wellness. “We’re encouraging people to tend to their mental health that day without shame,” Ikpi explains. On No Shame Day people are asked to unapologetically seek out community and treatment in order to empower their quest for mental health wellness.
No Shame Day is typically held on the first Monday of July kicking off National Minority Mental Health Month. However, this year, due to the first Monday of July falling on Independance Day, No Shame Day will be moved to the 2nd Monday which is July 11th.
CHOICES by Bassey Ikpi