Shanti Das, founder and executive director of Silene the Shame took part in the Women in Music (WIM) Atlanta’s “Brunch With a Purpose” event on March 23rd at The Gathering Spot.
In front of a crowd of WIM members, artists, songwriters, and publicists, WIM Atlanta’s Vice Chair of Events, Dina Marto, facilitated a conversation with Das concerning depression, mental health, and where Silence the Shame fits in.
A Syracuse University graduate, Das previously served as Vice President of Urban Marketing for Columbia Records, Sr. Vice President of Urban Marketing for Sony Urban Music, and Executive Vice President of Urban Marketing and Artist Development for Universal Motown.
She launched Silence the Shame back in 2016 as a result of her ongoing battle with depression and encountering ones who suffered from mental health disorders. Today, the organization serves as a foundation to eradicate the stigma, and normalize conversation relating to mental health and wellness.
“Over my 25-year career, I never really knew how to handle my stress and depression,” Das said. “When I was 7 months old my dad took his own life, but I’m okay with it today. I’m 48 years old and I’m finally at peace with my father’s suicide.”
After successfully assisted several music legends such as Outkast, Donell Jones, Goodie Mob, TLC, and Prince, Das says she felt compelled to pursue a career outside of the music industry.
“I would come to work every day miserable. I was just angry all the time,” said Das as she explained the events leading up to her departure from Motown.
“I was at the highest point of my career working at Motown as Executive Vice President, I was making almost half a million dollars a year, and then I quit, walking away from it all. I could have easily stayed and fought the good fight to possibly become president of a label, but that wasn’t in the cards for me. I felt something moving my spirit.”
In 2009, Das quit her job at Motown to move back to Atlanta to take care of her mother as she suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Unfortunately, her suffering didn’t end after quitting her job. According to her, 2015 was a very dark year for her and it would become the turning point of her life.
“I was a high functioning person with clinical depression and didn’t know it,” Das said. “I couldn’t recognize it. I went through financial hardships. I almost lost my home twice, and I started withdrawing from family members.”
Das confesses that towards the end of the year she was ready to commit suicide
“I counted up all the pills in the medicine cabinet. I was ready to kill myself,” Das said. “I thought that I was done with living and that the work that I had done was enough. I thought that since my dad did it, it was okay for me to do it.”
Fortunately, a chance encounter saved her. Das says that after running into a good friend of hers she was able to stop herself from taking her own life.
“I know that was God putting her in my pathway,” Das said. “I called the national suicide prevention hotline and also text my pastor.”
“My pastor told, ‘I’ll pray with you, but you’ve got to go to the doctor. You’ve got to get some help.’ So I called my healthcare physician on Monday morning, and he encouraged me to call a psychiatrist. I got on antidepressants and started going to therapy.”
Dr. Ayanna Abrams, a licensed clinical psychologist invited by Das, provided additional insight about creatives battling with mental illnesses.
“A lot of creatives also use their art as a self-care and expressive technique. They think, ‘I don’t have to check in with me personally because I get to be this person,’” said Dr. Abrams.
“They completely clock out on what’s going on in their relationships and families. They become less declined to care of themselves because they think everything is fine. People are used to seeing them a certain way so they feel like everything has to be fine because they have to keep performing.”
Das says that since creating Silence in Shame, her organization has received support from public figures such as Young Jeezy, Big Sean, Estelle, and Chloe x Halle.
During closing remarks, Das was also presented with a year membership to WIM and a donation to Silence the Shame.
Additional information about Silence the Shame can be found on all major social media platform (@silencetheshame) as well as their website, http://silencetheshame.com.