The Blind Stigma is a documentary that discusses mental health within the Black community. It chronicles and testifies the stories of five individuals on their trials and triumphs with mental health. Within the Black community, mental health is deemed as a ‘Swept Under The Rug’ stigma that has been creating false illusions and assumptions for a long time. That stigma is the core component of the African Canadian response to mental illness, and therefore African Canadians who suffer from mental illness are less likely to seek treatment. As a result very few studies have been done on the impact of mental illness in the Black community. The Blind Stigma powerfully removes the veil of shame that clouds the topic of mental illness in the Black community, challenge that misconception, give a voice to Black Canadians living with mental illness and leaves the audience more informed and empowered.
Young woman is sitting at a beach next to the water.
YOUNG WOMAN (Chivon)(Narrating)
So growing up I struggled a lot with depression, and anxiety, and an eating disorder. I think why it’s hard for me to talk about just struggling with body image and-
Scene changes to Chivon speaking into the camera on a couch.
– being at a point where I was actually taking diuretics trying to starve myself – um, in the black community you say ‘eating disorder’ and people just think no, that’s not a black girl thing, that doesn’t happen. And that’s totally not the case because my 16 yr old self would totally not agree with that.
CUT TO:OUTSIDE ON BLEACHERS – DAY
YOUNG MAN (NARRATING)
Growing up as a young person without a father figure, you never know where your niche is in this world. So, not knowing your niche, not being able to find good employment because your address, or the way you look, the way you talk, the way you dress it can bury some people if you’re not strong minded.
CUT TO:INSIDE – COUCH, Day
High school was pretty much the worst years of my life. And this is where my mental illness really began to take form. In grade 9, my freshman year when most kids were having the time of their lives I was crying myself to sleep most nights and waking up pretty much every day hoping to die because of the drama that followed me around everywhere. When I was 17 I got pregnant by my boyfriend who also impregnated two other girls in our school. I had an abortion, I chose to take this step because I knew the drama that was going to continue to follow me and that particular experience has haunted me for most of my life even until today.
CUT TO:BEACH – TORONTO – DAY
Stacy-Ann is sitting outside speaking into the camera.
My roommate at the time, she said to me one day: “I think you have anxiety”. And I went into my room and thought to myself “Anxiety? White girls get that.” I was so ignorant to the fact I didn’t know what it was.
CUT TO:OUTSIDE – DAY
Scene changes to people being interviewed on the street.
I don’t personally think that mental health is viewed in the black community for the most part there’s a stigma I think that if you are strong enough and apply enough of your mental vacates that it’s not a real thing.
I don’t think it’s recognized really in the black community. I don’t think people really talk about it much. Myself being African, a lot of people take mental health and turn it into something that it really is.
CUT TO:INSIDE OFFICE – DAY
Scene changes to inside office of Psychologist, Dr. Natasha Browne
I think there is first of all an overall stigma regarding mental health. Mental health is seen as in the black community in particular I would say as a silent killer. It’s something that we don’t acknowledge, I think it’s also something that we try to keep hidden.
CUT TO:INSIDE – COUCH
Mental health is not even talked about in our community. Like, there is no help with it. You try to talk to one of your homies about mental health and he’ll look at you like, “are you getting soft on me?”
I see other communities they come together, they discuss, they move forward you know what I mean, but with us it’s just like, man this dude is soft right here, let’s shun him.
I feel like there is a lot of misconceptions and a lot of fear of tackling the topic. I think that it’s one of those things that is still taboo unfortunately and I really wish that it wasn’t.
Whenever I went to adult and told them that I was going through depression they would say “you don’t have any bills, you don’t have any responsibilities, what could you possibly be depressed about.”
And they would look at me as if I was insane, they would look at me as if, you know, you’re just a kid and what do you have to stress over?
And I don’t think that’s fair because we’re going through our own struggles just like they’re going though their struggles.
Scene changes to interviewing Stacy-Ann outside
I feel like the black community – my community – we’re so scared to take that step to go see a counselor, to go see someone about it.
Changing scenes with various groups of people and individuals and music.