One activist wants to remind the public that mental health issues are “not a white person’s disease.” Dior Vargas, a self-described Latina feminist, says the mainstream narrative around people with mental illness often neglects men and women of color. So she turned her frustration into fuel to produce a photo project that reflects a more accurate picture.

“The media portrayal of people of color in general is so dehumanizing and usually created by white people who have no idea what it is to be a person of color who experiences multiple oppressions,” Vargas told The Huffington Post. “It’s important to provide a space where people can be in charge of their own narratives.”

Vargas did just that by creating a venue where the stories of people of color with mental illness were both validated and valued. The project, so far, includes over 60 photos of men and women of color. These individuals submitted photos of themselves to Vargas holding signs that identify their name, the mental health issue they battle and, if they wished to share, an important message they want to express.

By interacting with these individuals and asking them to share their stories, Vargas combatted the stigma around mental health in communities of color in way that she said no longer left them excluded and invisible. “That they are not alone and there is hope,” she said. “A mental illness diagnosis is not a death sentence and there are so many people who continue to live meaningful fulfilling lives.”… –Lily Workneh, Huffington Post, October 7, 2015

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