Good mental health is important to achieving optimum 2015 lifestyles

Publicist, Author and Mental Health Advocate Terrie Williams.

Publicist, Author and Mental Health Advocate Terrie Williams.

By Carmen Glover

There is nothing as euphoric as the first light of a new year to make plans for improving in the areas of life in which we all fell short during the previous year. For 2015, it is natural for resolutions to be made, plans to be developed and promises devised, all in the name of ensuring a successful year.

Yet, while exercise regimens are established, gym memberships soar and resumes are freshened up, scant attention is typically paid to promoting optimum mental health. This can be a huge mistake that can shatter dreams, derail well-laid plans and cost lives. After all, without optimum emotional and mental well-being, it is difficult to navigate life’s challenges and stressors successfully.


American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino attempted to commit suicide in August 2010. Appearing on ABC News two weeks after being hospitalized she said : “I just wanted to get away f rom the noise.”

In the African-American community especially, mental health is not dealt with as part of preventive medical wellness checks. It’s not considered to be a routine part of a yearly physical and that oversight can lead to devastating results, most often, untreated mental illness resulting in suicides. For instance in August 2010, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino tried to take her own life by overdosing on pills. After her hospitalization, she said of her suicide attempt:

“I just wanted to get away from the noise.” But Barrino is not alone, Don Cornelius, the genius who created Soul Train, shot himself to death with a firearm. Music executive with Violator Records Chris Lighty, Donny Hathaway and Phyllis Hyman were admired musical talents who committed suicide. Hathaway struggled with schizophrenia while Hyman was depressed and had bi-polar disorder. Hyman left a note stating “I’m tired. I’m tired.” Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s line of natural hair products took her own life in December 2014.

don cornelius shot himself to death.

Soul Train creator Don Cornelius shot himself to death.

The stigma that is associated with mental health challenges and the fear of being ostracized professionally and socially often causes African-Americans to justify longstanding failures to obtain routine mental health assessments and follow-up diligently with treatment if a diagnosis is made. One significant exception to that approach is media personality, mental health advocate and author Terrie Williams.

Williams received undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from Columbia University in New York City. She worked in the social service field for years, where she ultimately met and treated musician Myles Davis, who encouraged her to purse a career in public relations. Williams launched her public relations agency, The Terrie Williams Agency and attracted an impressive client list that included Essence Communications and actors Eddie Murphy and Nia Long. Williams went on to write the public relations Bible: “The Personal Touch.” I met Williams in 1999 when I served as the editor for the business and professional magazine “The Network Journal,” based in lower Manhattan.

Phyllis Hyman commited suicide in 1995 leaving behind  note which said: "i'm tired. I'm tired."

Phyllis Hyman committed suicide in 1995 leaving behind note which said: “I’m tired. I’m tired.”

I’ve seen Williams over the years at different events but I was puzzled when she  retreated from the spotlight.  While attending a regional conference for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) at the Associated Press (AP) headquarters in New York in October 2013, it was eye-opening to listen as Williams spoke passionately about the issue of mental health in the African-American community and her experience with the disease.

“I had a nervous breakdown,” Williams said candidly before urging journalists at the conference to “take time to love and care for yourselves.” She explained the fear that often consume African-Americans when they are confronted with mental health issues but she explained the importance of seeking help.


Symptoms of Depression, the main indicator that someone is in danger of committing suicide.

One of the myths of mental health awareness and treatment in the African-American society is the belief that seeking treatment means that the individual is “crazy.” There is nothing crazy about seeking help when it is needed. People from all walks of life experience a myriad of struggles, which sometimes include varying degrees of depression, which often leads to suicide.

It is prudent to seek preventive care before signs of discontent morph into symptoms of depression, which, if left untreated can deteriorate into severe or major depression that can lead to suicide.


The Suicide Prevention Hotline is an easily accessible resource if you feel overwhelmed and have suicidal ideation.

As the new year gets underway, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and loved ones is to be vigilant of mood swings and changes in routines so that issues that could lead to mental health illness are addressed before they are exacerbated. If necessary, make that important wellness call to 911 so that those who are experiencing crisis can get help before it is too late. It is unfortunate that as a community, African-Americans have lost many talented individuals whose battles with mental illness overwhelmed their lives.

Yet, the new year offers an opportunity for all of us to be more observant and aware so that preventive care is included in all resolutions and goal setting activities. That is the only way for 2015 to deliver optimum lifestyles for more people than was achieved in previous years.–

“The Best Man Holiday” arrives in theaters amid profound anticipation and excitement

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

By Carmen Glover
A legion of fans have waited with bated breath for the sequel to the romantic comedy, “The Best Man” to hit the big screen. The wait is officially over as “The Best Man Holiday” opened nationwide this weekend to long lines as eager movie patrons reunite with their favorite characters. Fourteen years after the original movie debuted in theaters, all of the characters are back, delivering solid acting and tackling material that runs the gamut of emotions.

When the film’s director, Malcolm D. Lee, addressed the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Florida this past summer, he disclosed that he “did not want to rush” and create a sequel that lacked meaning. He explained at the time that he felt it was important to tell a story that reflected growth and substance in the characters. “I wanted to wait until the characters had grown before I did a sequel,” he said. He also shared what drove him to the sequel. “The desire to see marriage on the screen was my inspiration for this movie,” he explained.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The movie is well worth the wait. The main characters have enjoyed success in the intervening years and they bring the full scope of their acting skills to “The Best Man Holiday,” which deals with more serious subjects than the original film. The sequel reunites the characters at the home of Lance (Morris Chestnut), who is now playing in the NFL for the Giants, and his wife Mia (Monica Calhoun). Naturally, when old friends get together, it’s a mixed bag of emotions, some overt, others covert.

It is refreshing to see an ensemble cast of characters who are able to reprise their roles easily and deliver an entertaining and thought-provoking medley of scenes that reinforces the long-held belief that if African-American actors are given the opportunity and script to bring an important story to life, they are more than capable of delivering with panache. Do yourselves a favor and go see this movie so that you can reconnect with the nostalgia of the past while you embrace the realities and new adventures that abound in “The Best Man Holiday.”–