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Michelle Williams, Keynote Speaker
Mental Health America
2017 Conference

Michelle Williams
"It's ok to get help"

Michelle Williams, Destiny's Child Member,
Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder

MHA announced that Grammy Award winning singer/ songwriter, Broadway actress, inspirational speaker, and entrepreneur Michelle Williams is confirmed as a speaker for their 2017 Annual Conference.

Williams has been outspoken about mental health, an issue that has personally affected her—and one in which many in the African American community do not like to talk about. Over the last few years, she has been very vocal and candid about her battle with depression, which she was able to overcome through her faith in God and therapy.

MHA is reportedly thrilled to have Michelle share her journey on June 14 at their Annual Conference in Washington, DC. She will speak during the afternoon plenary session at 4 p.m.  And, while not yet confirmed, she may even sing! Michelle will also be MHA's special guest at the VIP Clifford Beers Society Reception later that evening.
“I’ve dealt with depression,” the singer and actress, 32, tells the Associated Press. “I had to choose to get out of bed and do whatever I needed to do to be happy.”

“We’re taught, ‘Just go to church and pray about it. The Lord is going to heal you,'” Williams explains, adding that she’s opening up about her experience to encourage others to seek assistance.

“Well, in the meantime, I believe God-gifted people, physicians, doctors, therapists – that’s your healing. Take advantage of it. Go see a professional so that they can assess you. It’s okay if you’re going through something. Depression is not okay, but it is okay to go get help.”


Michelle Williams
Destiny's Child

Michelle Williams

When Jesus
Say Yes
Nobody Can
Say No

Brandon Marshall and his battle with Borderline Personality Disorder

Football is still Marshall’s career, but battling the stigma that comes with mental illness has been his passion since he was diagnosed with BPD in 2011 at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. “Today I am making myself vulnerable to help others who suffer from borderline personality disorder,” Marshall said during a 2011 news conference he called to discuss his diagnosis and mental health struggles. “I have seen my life with BPD and how it played out. My goal is to walk the halls of Congress to fight for the insurance coverage for this, and walk the halls of the National Institute of Mental Health to raise awareness of this disorder. That is my mission moving forward. I love the game, but it’s not my priority anymore. Today my journey begins.“I want to be the face of BPD,” he added.

Marshall spent three months at McLean in 2011 undergoing intensive evaluation and treatment. Dr. Lois Choi-Kain, the medical and program director at McLean’s borderline personality disorder unit, said Marshall should be applauded for going public with his mental health struggles.“He has been very public about his diagnosis, and I think that is very positive,” said Choi-Kain, who has not met Marshall and was not involved in his evaluation and treatment. “It shows a lot of courage and it shows what he has learned from his own treatment.”

Borderline personality disorder may explain why Marshall may be the most intense player on the field one minute and the most lackadaisical the next. It explains why he could catch a league-record 21 passes in one game with the Denver Broncos in 2009 — and why he was suspended that same year for bumbling through practices. BPD might also explain — but not excuse — Marshall’s ugly run-ins with the law and clashes with his wife, Michi Nogami, and other loved ones, most of which occurred before he received his diagnosis. “Right now, today, I am vulnerable, I am making myself vulnerable,” Marshall said in 2011. “And I want to be clear that this is the opposite of damage control. The only reason I’m standing here today is to use my story to help others who may suffer from what I suffer from.”

People with BPD such as Marshall, Choi-Kain said, react to events with intense anger and rage. Relationships with spouses and other loved ones swing between intense emotions. “They are either in a very good place or a very bad place,” Choi-Kain said. “There is no middle ground.” BPD patients often engage in reckless and impulsive behavior. They frequently abuse drugs and alcohol, Choi-Kain said. They express suicidal thoughts, and sometimes act on them. BPD patients, especially when stressed, struggle with self-understanding, Choi-Kain added. They can become paranoid and distrustful. “They feel everyone is their enemy,” she said.

Regardless of Marshall’s history of troubles, Choi-Kain believes he can serve as an effective advocate for the mentally ill. “Having someone who is so successful and skilled, having a person of strength publicly show that kind of vulnerability, shows that he has a lot of compassion,” she said. “It shows he has learned a lot from his treatment.”


Naomi Judd on Her Battle with Mental Illness

It’s been years since country music star Naomi Judd left the public eye. Now, the star is back and opening up about her life-long battle with mental illness.

“What I’ve been through is extreme. My final diagnosis was severe depression,” Judd told ABC’s Robin Roberts in an interview aired Tuesday on Good Morning America
“Treatment resistant because they tried me on every single thing they had in their arsenal. It really felt like, if I live through this I want someone to be able to see that they can survive.”

“They see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am,” she said. “But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad.”

Her condition has landed her several stints in psychiatric wards and on different medications — which she said has caused her hands to shake and her face to swell up “like a balloon.”

“I really haven’t been eating ice cream and candy,” she joked. “I really haven’t.”

Judd wrote of her troubles in her new memoir River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, in which she tells about her struggles and her road to “radical acceptance.”


Donnie McClurkin Says, “I Need You” Came From A Series Of Depressions He Was Going Through

In 2013, approximately 10 months after losing his mother, Frances McClurkin due to complications from a massive heart attack on Jan. 18, Pastor McClurkin said goodbye to his father, Donald Andy McClurkin, Sr.

Then, in March 2015, his sister, Cheryl McClurkin’s also died from complications of a massive coronary heart attack. In December of that same year, his 13-year-old niece Trinity Mableton, had a seizure in her sleep and died.

Award-winning gospel artist Donnie McClurkin sang his new single “I Need You” and acknowledged on The Real, that the inspiration behind the song came from a series of depressions he was going through.  Donnie said:  “I know it’s not, you know, appropriate to say, but I was going through a series of depressions. My mother, my father, my cousins, my aunts, my niece all in two years died. My mom and dad died ten months a part. And it left me at the point of really… thinking, hoping to die next… suicidal.”


Gospel Singer, Jessica Reedy Discusses Depression
and Suicide

Gospel Singer, Jessica Reedy, passionately sings about her journey with Depression and Suicidal Ideation in her Gospel Hit Single "Better"

Jessica Reedy discussed her journey with depression and suicidal ideation on CelebTV.  She said that the inspiration for her album, Transparent, was “pain.” Jessica said: “God allowed me to feel how people feel right before they kill themselves.  That moment right before you kill yourself.  When you’re like, yeah I’m gonna do it.  Like forget it.  I went that low. It help me to birth music that connects with you and meet you where you.  The song starts right there.  Then one step at a time, we walk out of it.  It gets better.  Hold on!!

"How would you react if you learned that your mind was disoriented and what you believed to be true was not?

Welcome to the start of my recovery."

Ashley stole a military truck to get away from people that voices told her would harm her.  She ended up in a high-speed chase with the police.

"The most frightening realization after the encounter was discovering that these feelings and thoughts were fabricated in my mind."

Ms. Ashley Smith was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia in 2007 after stealing a military truck and leading the police on a high speed chase, a joy ride that landed her in jail.  “I heard voices. I saw images of people following me that scared me. I thought my life was in danger,” Smith, then 24, told CNN.

Ms. Smith received treatment for her illness, and learned to cope through medication and a strong support system.  She is the author of the published book, “What’s On My Mind?” Ms. Smith has been featured on BET, CNN, and a Janssen Pharmaceuticals documentary.  Ms. Smith has also been featured in the Huffington Posts and other news media.

Ms. Smith dedicates volunteer work to NAMI, and is a former State Board Member. Ms. Smith is employed as a Certified Peer Specialist.  She supports peers by helping them identify their own strengths and recovery resources, including the wealth of support that can be found in sharing with each other.


What's On
My Mind?