Immediately following his younger brother’s suicide, Sidney C. Stuckey knew he wanted to start something to encourage dialogue about mental illness and mental health awareness in the Black community. He threw himself into learning everything he could about mental health, ultimately facilitating grief sessions and learning how prevalent suicide is in the Black community. As Sidney looks back on his brother’s life, Richard was full of life, always the life of the party, but always hardworking. He could be extremely outgoing, but he also had a temper, even in adolescence. In hindsight, these were clues that Richard may have needed help earlier in life.
A 2019 study listed suicide as the second leading cause of death for young Black men. Another 2019 study sounded the alarm of a rising trend of suicides among Black youth ages 13 – 19, doubling and rising 60% for girls and boys, respectively. Tunnel Light provides a light at the end of the tunnel for those with mental and physical health crises in urban, low-income, disadvantaged, and similarly at-risk communities in the form of food, nutrition, affordable housing, education, and employment and mental health awareness training.
One of our goals is to create an African American provider resource list. We also want to provide initial offerings of screening and referral. Other goals include establishing a network of Friendship Benches like those created in Zimbabwe, along with Book Nooks, as reading improves brain connectivity, lowers blood pressure and heart rates, and fights depression symptoms, among other benefits. We are in the process of partnering on a ground-breaking mental health app.
We want to impress on the African American community that it’s ok to make going to see a psychologist or psychiatrist a regular part of our health routine. Just like we go to get a physical exam once or twice a year, we need to do that with our mental health, if not more often.
Tunnel-Light envisions a world where individuals and families impacted by mental illness, regardless of color, creed, background and environment, seek the help they need without worry of stigma.