Mental illness is often seen as a “white person’s disease”—a product of privilege, a chosen illness. It is represented in the media by people who are white, while those who are not suffer in silence. The most important thing to remember is that mental illness does not discriminate according to race—or any other demographic, including class, gender, and so on.
To counter racial misunderstanding and foster positive attitudes toward mental health, Dior Vargas, a Latina mental health activist, created The People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project. It aims to change the way mental illness is represented in our society, giving a voice to those in underrepresented communities who also suffer from these diseases, by raising awareness and positive self-regard.
Vargas is also a keynote speaker who travels and hosts workshops at various colleges and universities. She aims to raise awareness and change the way we view mental illness. To see her upcoming workshops and the scope of her work, check out her website.
If you’d like to participate in her photo project, send in a photo of yourself holding a sign that says “I’m [your name] and I have a mental illness [or the exact type].” Some examples and more directions about how to submit can be found here!
How racially diverse is your circle of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues? How might it change your attitudes about your own mental health to submit a photograph of yourself with a personal statement? Share with us in the comments!