LOS ANGELES -- "We live in a world that constantly makes it difficult for us to be here, and then shames and punishes us when we say we're having a hard time being here," said Yolo Akili Robinson, the Executive Director and Founder of BEAM, The Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective.
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and BEAM focuses on the wellness of Black and marginalized communities. The nonprofit is working to remove barriers that Black people experience in getting access to emotional health care and healing.
"We're changing the frame to say, not only are we reimagining, but we're also liberating ourselves and these confines that create distress," said Robinson.
BEAM is reframing the month into Mental Health Liberation Month. They are spreading awareness of all forms of oppression against Black and marginalized communities within the mental health care system.
"We're going to liberate ourselves," Robinson said. "[The word] 'minority' lumps a lot of diverse people together who have very different experiences."
Robinson wants to shift the theme of the month from tokenism to liberation. BEAM has a vision for a healing and love-centered world for all communities. He says that starts with mental health.
"They say we have to struggle and we're saying, 'no.' We can envision a world where we have a living wage, accessible and free universal health care, and schools that don't feel like prisons."
Robinson says that they're working toward a world where Black people can go to a therapist and talk about their hardships without being locked away.
He added, "We center liberation because we know another world is possible."