MTV and Paramount Media have a new digital series, Hidden Healers, created in partnership with advocates who participated in the first-ever White House Mental Health Youth Action Forum. Together, they make the connection between mental health and culture.
MTV released the first episode of the series in November for Native American Heritage Month. In it, James Jones, renowned hoop dancer and member of the Nehiyaw people, or Cree in English, shares his journey with mental wellness.
Also known as the @notoriouscree on Instagram and Tik Tok, Jones shares how dance helped him navigate the challenges of anxiety and intergenerational trauma – his grandparents attended the infamously abusive residential schools. He remembers how he tried to suppress these intense emotions and would dance for hours.
Dance turns out to be the driving force in Jones’ healing journey, starting with break dancing and then hoop dancing. Hoop Dancing is a sacred form of movement and storytelling, often used as a focal point in ceremonies to promote healing during difficult times of loss.
And it worked for Jones who found moving and tuning in to his emotions healing, helping him better connect and understand the power within himself and his community. Now he’s using his story to help others – one step and beat at a time.
Indeed, Hidden Healers promotes and advocates for accessible, relevant, and often hidden mental health resources for communities who have been historically marginalized – like Jones’ use of dance as a Cree.
All of which is sorely needed – according to data from Mental Health America National, 15.08% of teens reported at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Of those with a major depressive episode, an alarming 60.3% did not receive any treatment.
Getting help can be hard for anyone and young people have additional things to consider including what messages they hear about mental health in the media or what conversations they’re having at home about mental wellness, and whether or not they have access to trusted adults and resources.
To promote mental wellness, the advocates behind Hidden Healers identify individuals to share their stories of finding strategies to support mental health. So Hidden Healers works to engage communities that for too long have been left out of the conversation and connect them with resources that best fit their diverse needs.
What is clear from the first episode is that healing looks and feels different for everyone, because the reality is healing cannot and should not be a one size fits all approach. Hidden Healers envisions a future where communities can come together to promote healing and safety in ways that relate to them most, challenging stigma, reducing fear, and building support related to mental health.
While we wait for new episodes, you can learn more about the advocates behind Hidden Healers and read additional stories of Hidden Healers in communities across the country through their Instagram page. If you or someone you know is looking for more information or resources around mental health, check out the resources on the Hidden Healers website.