2015 Black Girls Rock! – Arrivals


In a recent edition of Red table talk, Willow surprisingly revealed to her mom, Jada and grandma, Adrienne that she turned to self-harm in a bid to coping with depression. The teenager who achieved super-stardom at the tender age of nine with the release of her hit single, ‘Whip my Hair’ admits to going through mental strain as a result of the success she had gained during this time.

Both Jada and Adrienne were shocked by the news as Willow explained that she would cut her wrists, making sure to hide it from friends and family, “[I] totally lost my sanity for a moment.”

It wouldn’t be the first time the youngster admits to going through challenges that were borne as a result of fame. In an interview with Girlgaze last year, she said, “Growing up and trying to figure out your life…while people feel like they have some sort of entitlement to know what’s going on, is absolutely, excruciatingly terrible — and the only way to get over it, is to go into it.”

On fame, she had this to say:

When you’re born into it, there are two choices that you have; I’m either going to try to go into it completely and help from the inside, or…I’m really going to take myself completely out of the eye of society. There’s really no in-between.

Thankfully, the young teen has found new ways to deal with her mental battles as she also revealed that she hadn’t cut herself in the last 5 years and is still going strong.

Willow’s admittance comes in the same month the U.S. has tagged the Mental Health Awareness Month. However, for us in Africa, I think it’s equally important that we learn to accept that some of us are facing real mental challenges and ope up the floor for such conversations to be had around getting and seeking help. Hopefully, we’re able to get to a point where the stigma around mental health battles has completely died down and in its place a sense of empathy for those going through these challenges.

It’s time to open a discourse around mental health and propose ways to enable those going through hard times to getting help through our respective communities. Willow’s revelation also reminds us that mental health issues are not streamlined to the adults, children battle too. It is our job as a community to provide a safe haven for as many as we’re opportuned to.


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