There are some who voluntarily seek out psychiatric care.  Some even have routine visits to a mental health professional. Others are forced to go “talk to somebody” by their job. Someone has recognized that they something isn’t functional at the level they were previously and are interested in helping them continue to add value to the company.  Legal problems lead some to be forced to be evaluated. Their poor choices and actions cause intervention. Families often bring there loved ones for treatment when the family has reached the point of “enough is enough.” The family may have to involve the court to intervene to get their loved one the help that they need.

Justin McKinley & Rico James, psychiatric nurse source: BET

Justin McKinley & Rico James, psychiatric nurse
source: BET


So, back to you. You have a friend who you think has some mental health assistance. What kind of friend are you?  Are you like Justin McKinley’s friends who told him that he had to get some help or he couldn’t hang around them any more? You might be thinking that there are no Justin’s in your life or that mental health issues won’t impact you.  Just listen to President Obama and you’ll know that is not the case.  He says,  “The truth is, in any given year, one in five adults experience a mental illness — one in five.  Forty-five million Americans suffer from things like depression or anxiety, schizophrenia or PTSD.  Young people are affected at a similar rate.  So we all know somebody — a family member, a friend, a neighbor — who has struggled or will struggle with mental health issues at some point in their lives.”

Rahn K. Bailey, M.D., FAPA source: Meharry Medical College

Rahn K. Bailey, M.D., FAPA
source: Meharry Medical College

Dr. Bailey knows this truth and provides a more specific breakdown on the mental health issues faced by the population.

  • Emotional disorder: major depression and bipolar(3%) (5%) women more than men
  • Psychotic disorder: paranoid schizophrenia or schizophrenia (1%)
  • Behavioral disorder: conduct children / violence adults (9.1%)
  • Cognitive disorder: mental retardation developmental and ADHD (4.1%)
  • The percentage of the population is estimated at 26.2%  in USA
  • There is no significant difference in the total Population and  the African- American  population.


Justin was diagnosed with paranoid  schizophrenia. For the record, Justin is his real name. He decided to stand up to the possible stigma to help others who might be in the same situation.  After he got his initial diagnosis, he had trouble accepting his diagnosis.  He spent about a year and a half living in fear with delusional thoughts and paranoia before entering a program that helped him to transform his life. Today, his treatment plan of counseling and medication helps him to manage his effectively.


Fortunately for Justin, his family and friends intervened.  Justin credits his friends as being the number one reason he got help. Telling him that they would cut him off was a motivator for him.  His friends also were there to help him through his treatment by checking on him and taking him to church.


Justin’s relationship with the Lord was also important in his recovery.  Justin was receptive when the Lord revealed to him that if he sought help from doctors that the doctors would take care of him.  It was through his church that he learned about the program that eventually led to his recovery.


One of the first people who helped Justin in the program that guided him through treatment  was Rico James, a psychiatric nurse. Rico reveals that Jason’s story is fairly typically.  The young mental health patient tries to downplay symptoms as long as possible. Often these patients will isolate themselves from their community and feel as if they are alone with this problem.


After being in and out of the hospital, Justin found an environment that was and is key to treatment and ongoing support.  When the brain is not functioning properly, patients need education, treatment and to navigating the mental health system.  Rico recommends that friends and family step in to advocate and support the newly diagnosed patient get and maintain the correct treatment plan.


If you’re thinking your friend is a little cray cray, it isn’t a joke. You may need to support your friend like never before. To truly be a friend, you may need to have the hard conversation and stand up to be the advocate your friend truly needs.


When season 6 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta starts, Kenya and Phaedra will undoubtedly be going at it.  It certainly will be entertain.  Perhaps, they will both be become even better advocates for those with mental health issues.  At a minimum, if they’re talking about it we’ll talk about it.  It is a topic we should talk about more.  I’m betting that Kenya and President Obama would both agree.


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Joy Williams