Friday, November 4, 2011

Ashley Smith Tackles the Stigma of Mental Illness in Black Families

For many African American families discussing mental illness is a hush hush subject, which can compound the problem of people suffering with of mental illness.  If you can't talk about it, research it,  or understand the effects that illness has on the family, there is no way to solve the problem.   Young people like Ashley Smith who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 20 are trying to dispel this stigma.

Ashley was unaware of her illness until she stole a military truck and went on a high-speed chase with the police. She was jailed and later hospitalized for that crime. Later she learned about the mental illness that ran in her family.  Now she is in recovery with the support of family, treatment teams, peers and her faith.  To help other families and young people, she started Embracing My Mind, Inc.   "I want to help reduce stigma, change perceptions, and encourage an open conversation about mental illness."  Her story is being featured on CNN.  Learn more about her work at

For more stories of success and support visit or read Black Pain by Terrie M. Williams. For referrals and help try

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