Willie Williams

Willie Williams

by Ike Evans

The issue of whether to disclose as a person with lived experience of mental illness is always a complex one. For this latest episode of Into the Fold, we talk to Willie Williams, co-coordinator of the Austin Area African American Behavioral Health Network, about his own experiences with “coming out,” the challenges of living as an African American man with a mental health diagnosis, and things to consider when deciding whether or not to self-disclose.

Willie is a longtime resident of Austin, Texas, a city with a progressive reputation but a checkered racial history. His decades of experience in public service has given him uncommon insight into the challenges of sharing one’s mental health history in a variety of settings. One important take-away: there is no universal “coming out” story, and issues of identity and cultural background can be just as germane as personal circumstance in determining the coming-out moment.

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