One in four people in the world will develop a mental health condition in their lifetime. With such common occurrence, all communities need awareness and honest conversations to make sure people who are grappling with these conditions get the support and care they need. Nikki Webber Allen is one of those caring people doing this work in communities of color.
Nikki founded the i Live For… Foundation, Inc. in honor of her 22-year old nephew Paul, a bright and sweet young person who died by suicide after years of battling depression and anxiety. The foundation’s mission is “to promote the mental and emotional well-being of millennials of color and to end the cultural stigma of depression and anxiety.” She focuses on the youth because it starts young; the average age of onset of depression is 14 years old. Add to that the incredible stigma that still exists, particularly among black people, that depression or any mental issues are a weakness, and you have a formula for a very troubling scenario for children of color.
Nikki intends to leverage the skills she gained from her considerable, successful career in the entertainment industry to create short films that tell the story of young people who, like Paul, are grappling with depression and anxiety. She wants us all to know that depression does not have to be a death sentence – there is hope. There is help. But we must be willing to acknowledge the signs, have the conversations, and make sure our loved ones get the care they need.
Hear the origin story of i Live For… in Nikki’s own words:
“From Martin Luther King to Kendrick Lamar, from Janet Jackson to Serena Williams, millions of black folk have battled depression while bearing the stigma and taboo that is tragically attached to mental illness. i Live For… is an incredibly important organization that offers much needed support to those who too often suffer in silence”
– Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
You can read a beautiful, in-depth article on her life story on In The Trove.