This Photo Project Aims To Eliminate The Stigma Of Mental Health Issues For People Of Colour
The Debrief: Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist, Dior Vargas wants to change the way mental illnesses are presented for people of colour
On her website, Dior Vargas describes herself as a, ‘Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist,’ and her latest photo project, People of Color and Mental Illness, is starting to make waves on the internet.
Vargas is committed to getting rid of the stigma that people of colour face when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses. ‘This photo project stems from the lack of media representation of POC (people of color) and mental illness,’ Dior writes on her website. ‘There are tons of articles that list people with depression and other mental illnesses but you rarely see someone who looks like you. We need to change the way this is represented.’
To kick the project off, she is asking people of colour to submit a photo of themselves holding a sign that says ‘I’m [your name] and I have a mental illness [or exact type],’ and the result has been a hugely inspiring and positive one.
One participant in the project, Jezabel, describes how as ‘a “fiery” Latina I’ve had difficulties in expressing my emotions and at the same time feeling accepted and understood’.
Vargas has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the next phase of her project: a photo book of these pictures, shot by a photographer in high-resolution, which she then hopes to exhibit in a gallery. Speaking to Buzzfeed she said, ‘I want to get these photos into more spaces which will then encourage these conversations and contribute to the eradication of stigma.’
Vargas’s own findings have been shown in research, which has found that if you are from a black or minority ethnic (BME) background, access to mental healthcare is worse than those who are not. As noted in Left Food Forward, The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCPMH) says that ‘ethnic differences are apparent in most aspects of mental health care in the UK’.
On top of this, the mental health charity Mind says that BME people with mental health issues ‘are more likely to present “in crisis”, appearing at A&E or being referred by police’.
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