On Tuesday evening, stars Cynthia Erivo, Michelle Williams and La La Anthony hosted DRK Beauty Healing’s Slumber Party, a virtual fundraiser to provide free mental health services for female-identifying people of color.
The livestream event featured an open conversation among the hosts and DRK founders Wilma Mae Basta and Danielle Jackson. Additional panels included voices from mental health professionals Dr. Akua Boateng and Dr. Christine Coleman and activists Joy Strategist and Chris Miss Bright.
In the mental health panel, Williams spoke to the challenges of discussing mental illness with others and reaching out for support. When touring around the country with Destiny’s Child, she says she first opened up about her depression to her manager, who didn’t understand what she was going through.
“They will say you have nothing to be depressed about, and they mean well, but they just don’t know that [having] successes and accomplishments and a great itinerary and things going on does not erase what you’re feeling in your soul,” Williams said.
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Like Williams, Erivo discussed her experience working on her mental wellness and seeking counseling services. “I always seek help. There was a point I couldn’t get to a therapist, so there was a service that you could get online; you could just chat with a therapist really quickly,” the Tony winner said, adding that she hopes her story will help destigmatize enlisting the help of therapists. “Just to express what is going on and then work through those things — I’m genuinely trying to take care of myself holistically.”
A newcomer to mental health care, Anthony shared she found ample time during coronavirus-forced lockdowns to reflect on her wellness. She spoke to her experience of working with a new therapist and encouraged others to work with “someone that is not your mom’s sister, aunt or cousin.”
“This is just someone who’s not connected, and comes with an open mind and feel that you can speak freely,” she explained.
In order to support therapists, who are currently providing free services, Erivo encouraged the audience to make a donation to the cause. At the conclusion of the conversation, she celebrated the “magic” of mental health care: “It gives you a language to move forward in a way that is very special.”