Data News Staff Edited Report
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and New Orleans based rapper Alfred Banks is on a mission to be successful at his craft, while also helping to bring freedom to others.
In 2014 Alfred’s brother Orlandas Banks took his own life after suffering from schizophrenia. His mental illness was a hard conversation not just for Orlandas, but also for his family.
“I come from a Black family….from Uptown,” says Banks. “We don’t really talk about mental health issues.”
Banks also have been open about his own struggles with mental health and has been open about it in his music.
After the untimely death of his brother, he took a short break from creating music, then Alfred Banks decided to illustrate the pain through his art.
Those songs made up ‘The Beautiful’ Album, a work that’s been embraced by organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which Banks is now an ambassador for. His songs have become life-changing for his fans. On the opening track, ‘The Funeral’, Banks illustrates the funeral services for his brother. On the day of the service, the rapper had to leave early to drive to a performance he had that night.
“After a show, one woman told me her husband passed away from brain cancer,” says Banks. “She was depressed and she wanted to harm herself. When she heard ‘The Funeral’, it stopped her from committing suicide.”
Banks hopes that his work, along with his brother’s memory, will break chains for others who are suffering in silence.
“I want to let people know that you’re not by yourself,” says Banks. “It’s not something you have to deal with on your own.”
If you or someone you know could use help, NAMI New Orleans provides free services – support groups, classes, and even mental health aid training. Call 504-896-2345 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.