Jesse Jackson, Jr. has been diagnosed with Bipolar II Depression. Events surrounding his illness have been shrouded in silence and mystery. Though I value privacy I have a sneaky suspicion that “things” have been happening to and by Jackson for a long time. You see mental illness in the so-called Black community is a no-no. Suggesting that one should get a psychological and/or psychiatric evaluation, or take medication to manage a mental disorder is seen as weak; something that can be eliminated by prayer and church alone. Untrue. Just as medication for ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure are readily taken, mental illness should not be dismissed. To ignore it can result in a reduced level of functioning, and at its most extreme suicide – another area of denial for some African Americans.
Personally, I’m excited that Jackson’s diagnosis has made the news. Hopefully it will open up more dialogue surrounding mental illness among African Americans, that we may become healthy mentally as well as physically.