Jade Mathis knows what it’s like to be a Black woman living with depression. Mathis, 36, the oldest child of the famous syndicated TV Judge Greg Mathis, was diagnosed with depression and ADHD in 2006. After years of struggling, Mathis has found a way to survive and thrive in spite of her diagnosis. She completed her undergraduate degree, finished law school, passed the bar exam, and served as the Assistant State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, MD. Now, she is sharing her story with others, hoping to empower people who may not know where to turn for help.
“I really think it’s important to tell people it is okay not to be okay,” Mathis said. “It’s okay not to be okay all the time. And it’s okay to tell people. People can’t help you unless you tell them that you need help. But most importantly, there is no shame.”
In 2016, Mathis shared the very personal story of her diagnosis with Pastor John K. Jenkins Sr. at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in a video that has received thousands of views on YouTube. Since that time, Mathis has become a dedicated mental health advocate who travels to various schools and churches to share her message of resilience. And she loves that her work can provide hope to young people who otherwise felt like they had to suffer in silence. “It just warms my heart because I wish I had somebody when I was in college or even law school to come talk to me and tell me that it’s okay,” she said in an interview with PEOPLE.
Mathis also uses her social media platforms to answer questions and share information with her followers.
And although talking about mental health can be extremely painful and personal, Mathis believes that having honest conversations with people of color is what she is being called to do. “I feel like it is part of my duty and my calling, and honestly, just my purpose. My God-given purpose is just to spread awareness to say, ‘Look at me. I go through it. I suffered through it. I still battle with it,’ “ she says. “I am going to use my story to inspire African Americans, because they don’t like to talk about mental health conditions, and the faith-based community. I’m a part of both of those two communities who do not want to talk about it. I’m going to do it and I’m going to do it boldly,” she said.