Grammy winner lends voice to mental health awareness

Grammy winner lends voice to mental health awareness
Updated: Jul. 27, 2017 at 10:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Hawaii will present their 3rd annual concert celebrating National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This year's concert will feature Grammy Award winning performer and producer Billy Dorsey on Saturday, July 29th. The concert will take place at Honolulu Christian Church, 2207 Oahu Avenue at 2P.M. It is free and open to the pubic but requires registration at

As a songwriter and producer, Billy Dorsey has worked with popular artists such as T.I., Bob, Piles and a number of popular recording artists.  Perhaps he is best known for writing, producing and performing gospel music. A few of the numerous accolades he has received include winning Dove and Stellar awards, both of which are among the highest honors in the gospel music industry. Dorsey has worked with notable gospel artists including Andy Mineo, 2 Chainz, 10th Avenue North, and Lecrae. It was his work on Lecrae's Gravity album that won him Best Gospel Album at the 55th Grammy Awards. His commitment to his Christian faith is also seen through his work as an Outreach Minister at the Houston based Lakewood Church, pastored by bestselling author Joel Osteen. Life has not always been this good for Dorsey, nor did his success come overnight.

In the earliest part of his career Billy had some significant struggles with the biggest one beinng homelessness as he made efforts to work his way into the music industry. During that period he says he struggled with severe depression and thoughts of suicide. "During that time in my life I saw the horrors of mental illness and it definitely had an impact." The National Institutes of Health have indicated that mental illness affects one in five adults and one in 10 children in America. Yet, according to NAMI, it is estimated that nearly two-thirds of these people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment. That number drops significantly among ethnic groups in the U.S. who are even less likely to seek and get the help they need. Furthermore, African Americans and Hispanic Americans each use mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate. Mental problems are common among minority populations living in the United States and can be detrimental if left unaddressed.

Eventually Billy was able to work through his mental health issues and went on to achieve success. His bout with mental illness gave him a different outlook on life and lead him to become an advocate for others who struggle. Dorsey is black and has dedicated his life to raising awareness of mental illness, particularily among ethnic minority groups. He finds purpose in his work with NAMI and it all started when he quite literally lent his voice to their cause. "I was invited to sing the national anthem at a NAMI Walks event and was impressed with their work. So things just took of from there," he said. Now Dorsey sits on NAMI's national board.

Billy believes he has a responsibility to help others overcome their misconceptions so he travels the U.S. and the world using his talents to do that. When he comes to Hawaii he will debut his third solo album called Broken Wings. Written by two sons, Brandon Romero and Scott Malone, it explores the effects of mental illness for those who are related to those who struggle with the disease and those who struggle themselves. He will perform numbers from the album and sign the first press of the album in at the concert. From Hawaii Billy will start his international Broken Wings Tour with stops in India, Russia and Greece, among other places, and end in Jerusalem.

In 2008, the US House of Representatives established July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This national day of importance is named after Campbell, an accomplished author, activist, and NAMI Urban Los Angeles co-founder. Its purpose is to highlight the importance of mental wellness and improving access to mental health treatment and services for multicultural communities

NAMI Hawaii is an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It provides support and educational outreach programs for persons with mental illness and their families. Its programs are provided on all islands with the majority of them free of charge. They are prepared and delivered by family members and those who live in recovery from mental health conditions and are now living with these challenges.

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