Bebe Moore Campbell
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July 28, 2017

As we enter the final week of Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI California would like to invite you to learn about a passionate advocate, educator and leader in the state of California-Erika J. Kendrick. In addition, you will also learn about the great work NAMI Mt. San Jacinto did by planning the "Feria De Salud" in Perris, CA, which is a mental health fair geared towards providing resources and raising awareness to the Spanish speaking families, Latino families, the African American and LGBTQ communities.
Erika Kendrick- Advocate and Leader

Image 1: Erika Kendrick

The number one Girl Scout Cookie Queen, straight-A Student, cheerleader, Senior Class President and in National Honor's Society-was not a person that would be seen as having a mental health condition-at least not for Erika's family and community. Despite signs of depression, her family had mistaken her condition with exhaustion. Some family and friends said she just needed to eat a good meal or to go to church. However, Erika would tell them, "that this was something Jesus and a bowl of mac and cheese weren't going to able to fix-at least not without doing the work." 

As a student at Stanford University, Erika studied Psychology to figure out what had been going on with her brain all these years. One morning in class, a student was telling his story of how he discovered that he suffered from depression. Erika was liberated as she heard his symptoms. She explained that moment, as "If someone was breathing life into me with each syllable of each words that came out of his mouth. There I was, for the first time, feeling like I wasn't alone." After hearing this, Erika ran to the student services and almost kicked the door in with excitement screaming, "I'm depressed! I'm depressed!" 

Soon after, she was back in Chicago under suicide watch in the psychiatric ward. After that day Erika started to learn about the different treatment options. With the help of her dad, she decided to take the cognitive therapy route. After graduating from Stanford, she became an NBA cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls which she explains is what "saved her life." Although she continued to experience hearing voices in her head, she moved forward by taking part in cheerleading practices and writing her own novel. Erika explained this as the changing point in her life since she was able to understand her triggers and how to prepare for her challenges. 

Many times Erika came across situations in which her family and doctors did not believe in her condition. She started to self-medicate using marijuana and alcohol. Rarely would she be able to hold a traditional job longer than a week since she explained that she felt as if she were "a circle trying to fit into a square." That pattern occurred when she worked in advertising sales in Chicago, at an international label in New York City, and in a teaching role in Los Angeles.

Through these experiences, she started to realize that her way of working was through projects. She eventually found her way into event planning, marketing and writing.

"While sometimes it's a battle, other times I've been able to embrace it and mold it to fit my skin in a way that doesn't deter me from accomplishing my professional goals, but rather aids me in doing so. It's a delicate dance, this thing. But when it works, it's beautiful. But different. And that's where the magic is with mental health - in the difference of it all."

Today her recovery is a ten-step mental fitness plan that has been customized for her brain. For example, her recovery look likes the following: eating vegan, exercising regularly, meditating, trying to sleep at least seven-eight hours, etc. Erika also explains that part of her recovery consists of being of constant service. She now travels the country touring her new book, The "Who Moved My Happy?" Mental Fitness Workbook and speaking about mental health and her personal mental fitness plan. Erika says, "There's something innately beautiful about being of service to the human community and I feel honored and privileged to love others through my story."

Erika describes that in her Black community, prayer is an important part of their culture. While there is room for prayer, she explains that "there is also room for education, advocacy and compassion. We just need to make room for it. That will be my life's work." 
Affiliate Spotlight

Image 1: (Left to Right)
Jose Naranjo-FAF Teacher, Maria Rosa Alvarado-FAF Teacher, Board member, Support group facilitator, MH 101 Presenter, Compartiendo Esparanza Presenter, Eric Naranjo- Family to Family Teacher, Beatriz Reyez-IOOV Presenter, MH 101 Presenter, Peer to Peer Facilitator, Connexion Facilitator, Compartiendo Esperanza Presenter

NAMI Mt San Jacinto hosted an event on June 22 2017 at the Mead Valley Community Center in Perris CA. This area is an underserved unincorporated area of Riverside County in a largely rural neighborhood. Most residents speak Spanish and NAMI Mt San Jacinto provided presentations in Spanish and had tables of resources with people who spoke both English and Spanish. Two members of the NAMI Mt San Jacinto Board of Directors, Maria Rosa Alvarado and Jasmin Rubio both are bi-lingual  and were there to help with presentations, answer questions and had helped in the planning of the event.
The event was attended by over 150 people in the neighborhood. In addition there were many children who attended either with their parents or on a field trip from a local pre-school that is in the immediate vicinity. Parent Partners with Riverside University Health System- Behavioral Health were there with a table of art and activities for the children. They also gave away some prizes to the children and youth.  There were some nice door prizes for many of those in attendance. NAMI Mt San Jacinto provided a lunch for the participants and the vendors who attended. Many local service agencies were on hand to let the community members know what was available for them in the area. 

Image 2: (Left to Right) Daniel Melendez and Cecilia Montenegro from Mead Valley Family Resource Center
Beatriz Reyes- MH 101 in Spanish

Image 3: Beatriz Reyes sharing her story during the MH 101 presentation in Spanish. 

There were 2 mental health presentations done by family members and persons who shared about their mental health condition. During both of the sessions there were many questions from the audience regarding mental health resources and services in the area. There were family members present that had relatives with a mental health condition that learned about an upcoming NAMI Family to Family class in Spanish in the next 2 weeks and they expressed an interest in attending. During both of these sessions there were also many questions to the person with the lived mental health experience. NAMI Mt San Jacinto had two of its members Yolanda Siordia and Beatrice Reyes who shared their mental health journey and road to recovery. The family members were grateful for the information.

NAMI Mt. San Jacinto would like to thank NAMI California, CalMHSA  and Each Mind Matters for making the grant possible to be able to help make the event possible. 
Special Thanks!

A special thanks to California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63), for the opportunity to fund Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month events around the state that are spreading education and awareness among diverse communities! 
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