#SilenceTheShame: Entertainment Executive Shanti Das Speaks Out On Mental Health
There are just some things you can’t just pray away. Sometimes you may need to see a therapist or a psychiatrist and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Hip Hop Professional Foundation is launching a new initiative, Silence The Shame, to help remove the stigma that comes with mental illness and start the much-needed conversation in our community.
Known as The Hip Hop Professional, Shanti Das talks about the #SilenceTheShame initiative and how she wants to jumpstart the conversation about mental health in this exclusive interview.
BDO: How did #SilenceTheShame come about?
Shanti Das: I left Motown Records when I was EVP of Marketing in 2009 and I flew back home and started doing a lot of community service. I rebranded myself as The Hip Hop Professional speaking at a lot of colleges, and the mental health portion of my work really came about two years ago. My father committed suicide when I was seven months old and I just never properly dealt with his death until I was an adult. I first went to counseling when I was in my thirties, I’m 46 now, and it really kind of came to a head two years ago. I had a terrible bout of depression in 2015. I went back to counseling, got on anti-depressants and I finally wanted to turn that pain into something positive to help other people. That’s how Shame the Silence was born. I’m finally establishing the foundation as a 5013c and Silence the Shame will be the first initiative from The Hip Hop Professional foundation.
BDO: Why do you think after all this time and talk about mental health that there’s still a stigma with mental health?
Shanti Das: I think, especially in our community in terms of how we socialize, there’s still many negative connotations surrounding mental health. When you think of words that come to mind, people think, “crazy” or “that person isn’t normal.” No one wants to feel like that, especially in this age of social media where it’s about celebrating yourself or putting yourself up on this social pedestal. I think today it’s even more taboo because everyone is trying to be the best that they can be or to compete with the next person and no one really wants to share what’s going on from a negative standpoint in their life.
I do think a few people have started using social media as a positive way to talk about mental health. I think now celebrities are starting to open up and I think everyday folks like myself see celebrities opening up and it’s like, “Why are we afraid to talk about it?” I’m hoping that Silence the Shame will help normalize the conversation and really get people involved. Because I’ve worked in entertainment for so long, I’m trying to use my influence in that area to help get so many more people involved, especially from an African-American standpoint.