Jumaane Williams Uses His Win to Break Down Stigma Around Mental Health

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who lives with Tourette’s and ADHD, used his victory speech to talk about race and mental health.

“In certain communities, particularly Black and brown communities, even some immigrant communities, therapy’s not discussed, and it’s something of a taboo, which is unfortunate, because I think those communities, just like everyone, need it,” he explained.

Williams was elected NYC Public Advocate in February 2019 after running on a progressive platform in an extremely crowded field.

“I had thought about giving a version of what I said in different places. There never was a place that seemed to be the most impactful,” he explained. “Combined with just the raw emotion of where I got to and how I got there, I think it was critically important to the people watching like, this is not, it wasn’t an overnight thing.”
Williams wants to help subvert the stigma of asking for help because of mental health issues, and that identifying that need does not make you weak.

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me saying they’re people who have Tourette’s, have ADHD. I’m just now kinda grasping that people are being inspired by my story, which is a weird thing, I never really felt that,” he said. “I’m an activist elected official. It just so happens the pendulum has swung and I think that’s what people want right now, particularly in the dark times that we’re in.”