Michelle Williams: “Depression Isn’t OK, But It’s OK To Get Help”

Michelle Williams once had difficulty just getting out of bed.

“I’ve dealt with depression,” says the 32-year-old singer and actress, who shot to fame as a member of the group Destiny’s Child. Williams also said that in the past few months, she has emerged from years of suffering, crediting exercise, therapy and positive thinking to her success.

“I had to choose to get out of bed and do whatever I needed to do to be happy,” she said during a break in rehearsals for her starring role in new touring production of “Fela!” that kicks off later in January 2013. Williams also has a new single on the, and is currently working on a solo album.

Michelle WilliamsWilliams says she suffered her first bout of depression at 15 or 16 and has managed to avoid medication. She is speaking out for the first time about her battle to encourage others to seek help.

“We’re taught, ‘Just go to church and pray about it. The Lord is going to heal you.’ Well, in the meantime, I believe God-gifted people, physicians, doctors, therapists — that’s your healing. Take advantage of it,” she said. “Go see a professional so that they can assess you. It’s OK if you’re going through something. Depression is not OK, but it is OK to go get help.”

Blacks & Depression

Most African Americans, including 92% of depressed African-American males, do not seek treatment. Stigma continues to be a major barrier to seeking out care. Many people are still confused between facts and myths, and either don’t understand what mental illnesses are, and/or continue to believe that there is something shameful about them.

In addition to shame, minorities often feel the legacy of racism and discrimination, leading to the distrust of health and mental health professionals. Feelings of stigma, discrimination, and mistrust of authorities preclude individuals in need from seeking out and receiving the help and treatments that can lead them to recovery.

• The death rate from suicide for African American men five times that for African American women, in 2005.

• African Americans are 30% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.

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