Chirlane McCray on ‘the Invisible Disease’

The saying goes, “Healthy mind, healthy body.” But how often do we tend, acknowledge and nurture our mental health?

Mental illness shouldn’t be dismissed as something to simply “walk off.” Nor will “manning up” do the job. And being pegged as “crazy” is worlds away from resolving the problem. Mental illness is a disease that takes on many forms—from anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression to eating disorders and substance abuse.

In popular culture, we’ve seen prominent black men, like Kid Cudi and Kanye West, have bouts of mental illness in the public eye. And in an interview with Complex, Chance the Rapper, Mr. #BlackBoyJoy himself, spoke up about his issues with anxiety. “I don’t remember people talking about anxiety; I don’t remember, when I was growing up, that really being a thing,” Chance said.


Be clear: These celebrities are human, with real afflictions and illnesses. Still, mental illness is often kept quiet in communities of color.

“Stigma is, I believe, largely based on fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of not understanding of what is going on,” first lady of New York City Chirlane McCray told The Root. “And mental illness is kind of an invisible disease.”

In 2013 McCray opened up about her daughter’s struggle with addiction. Since then she has established Thrive NYC, a program focusing on mental health and substance abuse. McCray is also now at the helm of a coalition on mental health: Cities Thrive.

As Minority Health Month comes to a close, we encourage you to take care of all facets of your being: mind, body and soul. Above, watch New York’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, talk about mental health.

Afro-Cuban woman that was born and branded in New York. When León isn't actually creating cool videos, she's thinking of cool videos that she can create.

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She is amazing. McCray is unafraid to tie the history of trauma and slavery in black America to mental health among black Americans today. An aspect of mental health awareness that other medical health professionals have been hesitant to address.