Fonda Bryant’s route to become a mental health advocate began with a personal crisis: she was battling in 1995 while living in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her appetite was non-existent, she was fatigued all the time, and she sought solitude gladly.
“I was just thinking, I’ve been working hard, I’m raising a son, and I’m going to school.” “I had no idea I had a mental health problem,” Bryant tells Yahoo Life.
“I was in tremendous pain. “People don’t realize how much pain you’re in because your brain is the most important organ in your body,” Bryant explains. “I couldn’t bear it any longer.” My place was spotless. I had a strategy in place.
I wanted to make sure that when I carried out my plan, my brother would find me rather than my son. That’d be the end of it. I wouldn’t have any discomfort.”
Bryant contacted her aunt, Spankie, on the day of her intended suicide and provided her shoe collection. Her aunt contacted her back, sensing something was awry, and asked Bryant if she had any plans to commit herself.
“I said yes,” Bryant recalls. “And she went into action, like a superhero.”
A knock at the door soon followed, and Bryant was confronted with a Charlotte police officer who had come to accompany her to a mental health facility. After considerable hesitation, she consented to accompany him – a decision that saved her life.
“I always tell people, ‘We’re not weak.'” We are not self-centered. We’re not insane. “We just want that excruciating pain to stop right now,” Bryant says of individuals who are pushed to suicide thoughts.
That important day, combined with a second attack of melancholy in 2014, spurred Bryant to assist others. She now heads the non-profit Wellness Action Recovery (WAR), whose purpose is to raise mental health and suicide prevention awareness. While WAR programming is available to everybody, Bryant concentrates on the Black community, emphasizing the notion that mental health does not have to be a silent battle.
“You know, you know, in Black culture, the way we’ve been raised, you pray about it,” she explains. “Don’t claim it; instead, give it to God.” It’s a show of weakness, and my family, like so many other Black families, never talked about it. And when we did, it was seldom very favorable.”
Bryant continues, “Mental health does not discriminate, and culture is important.” The most important thing with the Black community is to show them that mental health is real, that we can recover, and that we can get better.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person dies by suicide every 11 minutes in the United States, and one in every five Americans suffers from mental illness. Bryant understands through her work that the shame and stigma associated with mental health prevents individuals from seeking treatment. That’s why she became qualified to teach the QPR — Question, Persuade, Refer — suicide prevention approach. The two-hour course teaches participants how to spot suicidal persons, what to say and what not to say, and how to link them to options for help.
“Most people are learning CPR in order to help someone who is having a heart attack or stroke.” “QPR is the same thing, but it’s for someone who is in a mental crisis or suicidal,” Bryant explains.”We can stop it if we talk about it.” When we ask that individual about suicide, it reduces fear and allows them to open up and share their feelings. And it provides us the opportunity to assist them.”
Bryant believes that by learning about the options available ahead of time (such as mobile crisis units and walk-in services), we can all help to keep ourselves and others we care about safe and healthy.
Bryant felt alone and unsure of what to do or where to turn in 1995. She now uses WAR to assist individuals in agony find hope through programs and a podcast.
“You never know what someone is going through. “A smile can hide a lot of pain,” Bryant explains. “Suicide is everybody’s business, and anyone can prevent the tragedy of suicide.”