September 23, 2021 2 min read
Earlier this year we lost our close friend and colleague Olisa Odukwe, or Oli as we knew him, at just 20 years of age. Oli was an unbelievable guy, as I'm sure anyone who met him would attest to. Kind, brave and loyal, he was not only a pleasure to work with but he was a great mate to us as a group. The portrait above perfectly captures the focus that he put into everything he did. The tragic circumstances in which he left us have added force to this campaign and massively reinforced its importance to us.
Oli lost a battle with his mental health, a struggle that was unknown to practically everyone—even most of those closest to him. Despite speaking to him on a regular basis, none of us were aware of what he was personally dealing with which serves to demonstrate how you can never really be sure how others are feeling. The choice to discuss things is ultimately a personal one but increasing mental health awareness is something we can all do to make this choice easier.
Increased awareness leads to more people feeling comfortable about discussing their mental health, which in itself can be therapeutic. In addition to this, many people aren't aware of the services that are available to them, nor the extent to which they are catered to their needs. BMMUK is a prime example of a catered service and we are so proud to be supporting them.
Oli's passing has already led to many discussions about mental health within the communities that he was a part of. We are hoping that with this campaign, we open up these discussions to even more people and support a great cause along the way.
The purple heart for Olisa was introduced by his closest schoolmate Nathan Azille, who told us how it all came about:
'After we lost Olisa I began to feel angry learning about how many other young men were taking their own lives. Because this loss was so close to home I felt that I couldn't just sit back and do nothing. I wanted to create a safe space for people to talk about their mental health experiences, which could be used to help others too and a podcast felt like the best way to do this. At the same time I wanted to create something for people to remember Olisa by.
I decided on the purple heart for a number of reasons. The day Olisa died, I was listening to the song 'Purple Heart' by the rapper Dave and it just hit different. Olisa loved Dave and I felt the heart itself was a fitting representation because he was loved by everyone. I later learnt that there is a US military medal called the Purple Heart that is awarded for bravery so it made sense to me to call the show The Purple Heart Podcast because there's not much braver than sharing your personal experiences online for the benefit of others.'
Our campaign has now officially launches, so please head here to buy a t-shirt whose profits will directly support BMMUK's mission of improving Black mental health in the UK. Thank you.
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