Mental Health Monday #8: Aja Naomi King's Self-Doubt, Muppets with Autism, and Navigating Mental Breakdowns

Oh, hey. Welcome to Spring. In case you were thinking about starting the week off on a mediocre note, meet Sidney Keys III, an eleven-year-old avid reader who started a book club for Black boys to celebrate their love of reading and focus on Black literature. He called it Books N Bros, naturally. There's still time to get your life together. 


Aja Naomi King, who plays Michaela on ABC's How To Get Away With Murder, gave a powerful, memorable speech about self-doubt, strength, and survival at the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards Gala. She preached a good sermon. Behold:

"B. Smith's husband, Dan Gasby, speaks about living with wife's Alzheimer's" by Jenny Drabble [Winston-Salem Journal]

"Smith, 67, began suffering from memory problems years before her diagnosis, her husband said. She once froze for several seconds while being interviewed on the “Today Show,” unprecedented for the experienced star, prompting a doctor’s visit.

Doctors gave Smith a prescription for anti-depressants; later tests revealed Smith had early onset Alzheimer’s."

"Black, 30, and Finally in Therapy" by Danielle Butler [Very Smart Brothas]

"It wasn’t until I had a late night discussion with a close friend where he tearfully revealed he’d seen a therapist and had been diagnosed with depression, that I entertained perhaps seeking professional help for my mental well being. Of course I didn’t think that I was as sick as my friend, when he asked if his diagnosis surprised me I responded in typical “Of course I knew, nigga I’m glad you caught up” Danielle fashion. “Oh yeah, of course not, I had always said you would benefit from therapy, with what you’ve been through? Of course a diagnosis of depression makes sense. I’m proud of you for finally taking care of yourself.”"

"With Joyful Photos, a 19-Year-Old Artist Confronts Media Bias Against Black Male Teens" by Antwaun Sargent [VICE]

"The revelation lead Loftin to create HOODED, a photo and video project that deconstructs stereotypes of black teenage boys. In the project's images, Four White Teens and Four Black Teens, Loftin displays against poppy backdrops two screen grabs of google images results, each displaying visually the staggering differences in search results. HOODED focuses primarily on the hoodie, an article of clothing which, when it's associated with the black male body, is tied to white racial fantasies of black males as "thugs" and "super predators," and assumptions that they are dangerous."

"Patton Oswalt Explains How Pop Culture Gets Grieving All Wrong" by Ari Shapiro [NPR]

"One thing that I've learned since what happened to me happened is: You don't know the kind of pain and loss other people may have gone through — even close friends and acquaintances. ... In really awful science fiction terms it is like putting on the sunglasses in They Live and then seeing the world for what it really is. Do you know what I mean? Obviously I knew there was loss and death and depression, but you can only sympathize so far until it directly happens to you."

Youtuber Kymara opened up about her mental breakdown, what caused it, and how she's recovered from that low moment.

"New Baltimore wellness center works to reduce stigma of mental illness" by Andrea K. McDaniels [Baltimore Sun]

"Simon Life and Wellness also offers an art therapy room, music therapy and yoga classes. Adult clients can take healthy-cooking classes and children learn to make YouTube videos. There is a game room where kids can play foosball and board games.

The different activities create opportunities to address mental illness in ways that go beyond just talking, Simon said."

"Self-Care + Entrepreneurship" [Crown of Courage]

"Cry Baby Cry: I used to shed buffalo sized tears from the insults, the stress, and the let downs that came with running my own organization. Not even going to lie, I tried to act like it didn’t phase me. I tricked myself into believing that I needed to be tough if I was going to make it in this dog-eat-dog world. I used to be ashamed to cry. It made me feel weak. My blessing came when I realized crying is not a weakness. It is a release. You can only hold so much negativity and at some point you just have to release it. So, cry your big heart out. I promise it is okay."

 photo: AP

photo: AP

"A Muppet with autism to be welcomed soon on 'Sesame Street'" by Frazier Moore [Associated Press]

"Developing Julia and all the other components of this campaign has required years of consultation with organizations, experts and families within the autism community, according to Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact.

"In the U.S., one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder," she says. "We wanted to promote a better understanding and reduce the stigma often found around these children. We're modeling the way both children and adults can look at autism from a strength-based perspective: finding things that all children share.""

Our most recent mental health-centered episode, "You Good, Man?" (featuring Nickolas Gaines).

Are you a Black mental health professional? Do you do yoga, reiki, massage therapy, herbology, bootcamps, or crystal work? Alex is building a database of Black wellness professionals and practitioners. Be a pal and submit your info to be included in the directory.

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