Hip-Hop

Juice WRLD's Mom Carmella Wallace Hopes to Normalize Mental Health Discussions in the Black Community

Carmella Wallace
Charan Ingram

Carmella Wallace

Today (May 14), Juice WRLD's Live Free 999 Fund announced a partnership with Crisis Text Line in order to help people have easy access to confidential crisis counseling.

Accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, people can text LF999 to 741741 to receive free mental health support. According to Juice WRLD's mom, Carmella Wallace, it was a priority to establish this alliance in light of Mental Health Awareness Month.

"I want to encourage people to focus on their mental health and to warn them of the dangers of self-medicating and for them to seek support if they need it," she says. "I want young people to take this time to do a mental health self-check, to be honest with themselves and reach out to Crisis Text Line if they need someone to talk to. That's why we've formed this alliance, to provide a starting point for young people to get the help they need."

Established in 2020, a year after the passing of Juice WRLD, Live Free 999 Fund commemorates his legacy and supports young people in their endeavors.

Billboard caught up with Juice's mother, Carmella Wallace, to speak on the importance of mental health and how the Black community can normalize conversations centered around mental health.

How do you intend to normalize therapy and healthy conversations about mental health within the Black community?

Consistent communication is critical in normalizing the conversation around mental health; we have to keep sharing the message until people feel comfortable talking about mental health. One’s mental health is just as important as his or her physical health, and our objective is to reach those who are silently suffering and help them realize that they are not alone.

Through Live Free 999, we plan on continuing the conversation that “it’s okay not to be okay,” by supporting and implementing programs that focus [on] mental health. Our goal is to keep the conversation relevant and support programs that bring measurable change within the black community.

Talk about your short-term and long-term goals for Live Free 999.

Our short-term goals are to support programs and organizations that provide preventative measures and positive avenues to address mental health challenges and substance dependency. We plan on normalizing the conversation though community outreach, education, and social media.

We also plan to continue offering a crisis text line to help those who are feeling overwhelmed. Our long-term goals include partnering with like-minded organizations with the objective of reaching more people. We also plan on implementing result-driven programs in schools to reach teens. Lastly, we plan on creating a podcast to address mental health and substance dependency.

What's the best advice you would give to parents who have children struggling with mental health issues?

I would advise parents [to] maintain healthy communication with their children and help them understand that they are not alone. It is extremely important that parents provide their children with the professional resources needed to deal with mental health challenges so that children don’t feel ostracized and receive the help needed to feel OK.

What are some coping mechanisms children and parents can use together to combat their mental health woes? 

I think that parents should create a coping plan that is rooted in honest communication preferably with the assistance of a professional.

How can young entertainers address their mental health issues knowing they have such a busy work schedule? 

I think that addressing mental health issues is just as important as addressing medical issues. The busy work schedule for young entertainers is a reality and meeting the demands of the industry can be challenging and stressful. Mental health self-care is important and proactively addressing mental health issues could possibly help them develop tools that could help them address their mental health heads on.