The entire month of May is dedicated to Mental Health and with May 5th being Silence The Shame day, we wanted to sit down with the founder of the organization, Silence The Shame – Shanti Das to discuss all the details of their upcoming event, A Brillant Mind Gala. The event, hosted by Atlanta radio personality, Kenny Burns will feature a star-studded list of attendees and honor well-known celebrities who are using their platform to continue the conversation on mental health. The list of honorees for the first-ever virtual gala includes Charlamagne tha God, D-Nice, Dr. Spirit, and Michelle Williams. We recently caught up with Das to discuss everything from the inspiration behind creating Silence The Shame, the virtual event, and much more.
Can you please share the inspiration behind Silence The Shame?
My inspiration for starting Silence The Shame dates back to 2015 when I had serious suicidal ideation and contemplated suicide in September of that year. That was a tough year for me. My best friend had taken her own life one year prior to that. My father completed suicide when I was just seven months old. I lived with that trauma of my dad’s suicide my entire life. I never went to counseling or got the help that I needed. Fast forward to when I was an adult, I didn’t really have proper ways of coping with my stress and anxiety. That ended up leading to depression. It was number of things that happened in 2015. Once I got the help that I needed, I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta, Georgia and Silence The Shame just kind of rolled off my tongue. I knew that it was God’ way of telling me that I needed to share my story and start something to help other people. That is how Silence The Shame was born.
Tell us about the virtual event, A Brilliant Mind Gala happening on May 5th. What can attendees expect?
May 5th is National Silence The Shame Day. We actually have our own day! We are doing our first-ever virtual Gala. It is to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the foundation. We have so many great guests lined up. We are honoring four people that we felt like use their platform to promote positive mental health and wellness and continue to normalize the conversation in order to erase stigma. We are honoring Grammy Award-winning singer, Michelle Williams, national radio host, Charlamagne Tha God, Dr. Spirit – who really is a wonderful therapist in the Atlanta area but does a lot on a national scale, and last but not least, DJ D-Nice – who really shined a light during a very dark time in the homes of people worldwide during the ongoing pandemic. Music has a way of healing and I believe he poured into all of us from a mental health and wellness perspective.
Also, we have different people that will be making appearances on the virtual Gala that we are very excited about. We have appearances by Raphael G. Warnock, Atlanta Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, singer/songwriter, Ronnie DeVoe, rapper/actor/activist, Common, Christian artist/songwriter, Lecrae, as well as clothing designer, Kenneth Cole. We have an incredible performance from Anthony Hamilton and the gala will close out with a 15-minute club quarantine set from DJ D-Nice.
Why is mental health a topic you are so passionate about?
I am passionate about mental health because statistic show that one in five people are affected by mental illness. I really feel like it’s four out of five or five out of five. All of us at some point deal with some mental health challenges. I tell people, we all have mental health but we all may not have a mental illness. The pandemic, [I think we’re living through several pandemics] is just a lot. People’s anxiety levels are heightened and so are stress levels. We want to make sure that people know that resources are out there to help them. Help is available. It’s okay to not be okay, but what is not okay is not asking for help. As an organization that does a lot of work in the community, especially in communities of color, we like to be able to again, empower and educate these communities so that they can understand how to get the care and treatment that is needed. Whether it’s for themselves, their family members, or their loved ones.
What can we expect to see from Silence The Shame in 2021?
We have a lot of great things in store and planned for 2021. We’re going to be launching the Soundtrack of Mental Health – which are 60-minute trainings geared towards executives, artists, and creatives in the entertainment industry. They’ll learn about basic understandings in regards to mental health, stress management, substance abuse, and learn healthy coping mechanisms. We have a podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, and Spotify with over 40 episodes where we interview everyday people. We have more episodes coming. Also, our community conversations are our community panel discussions. We interview so many people to normalize the conversation. We’re also launching the fall of 2021, our Silence The Shame college ambassador program at HBCU campuses. We’re really excited about that. We just have a ton of things in store and we’re excited to again, educate the community and help people live their best lives.
Register for the A Brilliant Mind Gala today by clicking here.
For more information and to tune into the A Brilliant Mind Gala, click here.
Featured Image by Nick Nelson