Review: R&B Divas LA – Mental Health

I was scouring the internet for a competent review of this week's episode of R&B Divas LA. Finding none, I decided to write one.

I am loving the new addition to the show – Chrisette Michele and Leela James. These two are eclectic artists with good spirits. They add fresh air and new perspective to the show.


This episode focused on the mental health of one of the veteran stars – Michel'le Toussant.


Chrisette's boo is out as producer of the Puerto Rico project and Warryn Campbell is in.

Michel'le is performing at the Crenshaw MLK Day Parade. She is told last minute that her 15 minute set (for which she practiced) is now a 30 minute set. She is very upset and seems to spiral out of control. She starts 'babbling' as Leelah James put it. It does not help that the sound is totally wack during the performance. michel'le even walks off stage at one point until the sound engineers can get it together. Needless to say, all of the ladies are concerned about her health.

Leelah and Lil' Mo visit Michel'le as home. Michel'le is surprisingly candid about her feelings and current emotional challenges. She shares her feelings of abandonment which arise from being displaced as a child from her mother and later her father.

The episode concludes with Michel'le visiting a psychologist. This psychologist is professional, concerned and firm about the seriousness of Michel'le's current condition.

I have written on Talulazoeapple before on mental health issues, specifically, the suicide death of a very good friend of mine. I am excited that such a popular show has decided to shine a light on such a serious issue. Mental illness is such a taboo subject in the African American community. We blame the victim. We blame the devil. Where is the help?

I briefly worked as a case manager. There was a woman who threatened suicide – once over the phone and once in person. As she sat at my desk, I searched for resources to provide her with the care she needed. How ironic - I am working in a social services agency with no resources for suicide prevention. I called a doctor's offices and one kind gentleman gae me the number to a mobile crisis hot line.

These people took care of this woman – sick, no insurance in a dark place. They drove to her home, diagnosed her and provided medication. When I saw her again, she looked like sunshine.

Kudos to the people who volunteer and service those suffering from mental illness. Kudos to TV One and R&B Divas for shedding a light on this serious issue.


If you know of someone in crisis, here are some numbers to give them:


Need help? Text “CTL” to 741741.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255

A Friend With Mental Illness Is Still A Friend

I was over at The Black Snob, and read a post in which she discusses living with bipolar disorder. The post was enlightening, especially because now she is able to manage the illness and live a productive life.

I read the post and felt an eerie sense of deja vu. I had a friend who suffered from mental illness. Well, she was not just a friend, she was my best friend in high school . We lost touch in our college years and reconnected maybe three years ago. She helped me tremendously with my book that I have yet to publish.


She had symptoms of the illness like insomnia, mania, hospitalizations. I tried to console her during our conversations but I did not have the knowledge or experience to understand. I would tell her positive things and pray with her. Then this fear started to develop in me. When I had not heard from her in a few weeks, I would call to make sure everything was okay.

I remember our last conversation, she said all of the right things but nothing was right about the things she said. The only way I can describe it is that it is like talking to someone who is in an aquarium. You can make out the words they are saying but they are coming from a place where a person should not be speaking from.

I would love to tell you that my friend learned to cope with the illness or found deliverance but sadly she did not. A got a message from her sister that she had passed away. The sister sent the message via FaceBook of all mediums. I was at work when the message that was forwarded to my email was received. I was so upset my manager told me that I could take the day off.

I often think back to that last conversation and I wonder what could have been said or done differently. The truth is, I knew something was fundamentally wrong but I did not know how to help. I just always let her know that I cared for her and was rooting for her success. I never guessed it would all lead to suicide.