“Get over it”. “That’s not a black people problem”. “Pray it away”. Those are some of the responses black women usually hear when we talk openly about our struggle with anxiety and depression. Women of color are taught to be strong and we hardly leave any room to cater to our mental health. Most black families don’t take mental health seriously. As black women, we internalize being told to always be strong and that mentalility follows us and manifests in our adulthood. The Black Girl Magic movement makes it increasingly difficult for millennial black women to share our struggles and admit that sometimes we don’t always okay.
Photo Cred ( @jockograves)
I came across Elyse Fox’s radical platform, Sad Girls Club when I was researching about mental health in the black community. I was intrigued by her courage and passion to change the narrative of mental health amongst black black millennial women.
Elyse Fox is a filmmaker, the CEO of Sad Girls Club and a Creative Media Associate at the Wing. She founded Sad Girl Glub to normalize talking about mental health issues amongst millennial women of color. SDG is a digital space where young girls can have a safe space to talk about mental health issues without feeling alone.
L.F.E had a chat with Elyse Fox to talk about how she is revolutionizing the way we talk about mental health and how we can cope with anxiety at work.
Anxiety and depression is widespread among black millennial women, Sad Girls Club is an innovative platform that helps ~us~ cater to our mental health! You are using your creative talent to change lives! What inspired your career path and the birth of the Sad Girls Club?
Growing up, I was interested in the arts, film and technology. I started a collective called pretty fly girls where I interviewed artists and featured them in documentaries that gave young girls a platform.I wanted to talk about bigger stories and talk about things people usually didn’t talk about. No one talks about mental health if you are black, and I knew was not the only one feeling all these emotions. When a black woman shows signs of anxiety , we label her as an angry black woman. We learn to hide our emotions. We are told that everything that happens in the house stays in the house. We don’t learn about depression, we don’t learn about anxiety, we lash out and we are stuck with the “angry black girl” label for life. We need to start talking to young women of color about anxiety and depression so that they can know it is okay to struggle and not always feel well.
Black women are taught to be “strong”so it’s often hard for us to talk openly about depression and anxiety. How can women of color talk to loved ones and colleagues at work about depression and anxiety?
It is always going to be uncomfortable to talk about anxiety and depression. The good part is that when you openly start a dialogue, it will become easier! When you are with friends don’t make the conversation a big production and over dramatize it. Start with asking something as simple as “How is everyone’s mental health going today?”. Make it friendly and make it a safe space. Use examples of things that have happened in the past.
When you are in the workplace. Be transparent and open with your boss, let them know about any challenges you are facing, Tell them about your workload, let them know if you need more support. If you are overwhelmed with anxiety at work. You can’t really put in your best work if you are always anxious.
We believe that black women are more productive when they bring their whole selves to work. As a black woman, how do you bring your authentic self to work?
I work in an all women’s space, so my workplace is a safe haven for me. I have the opportunity to talk to senior management if I am having anxiety issues. I can be more vocal about what is going in my life. If you have those type of conversations with your boss, he/she will eventually respect you for it!
Life after graduation can be confusing and scary. What advice do you have for millennial black women starting in the workforce who are dealing with anxiety and depression?
When I have anxiety at work. I take pieces of what I have to do and delegate it when I feel overwhelmed. Anxiety is going to appear bigger when you look at everything as whole. If you can take a task and do something little everyday, you will be more productive and less anxious. You will eventually reach your goal.
Also, get some of your friends involved so that they can keep you accountable.
“When you are in the workplace. Be transparent and open with your boss, let them know about any challenges you are facing, Tell them about your workload, let them know if you need more support. Let your boss know If you are overwhelmed with anxiety at work. You can’t really put in your best work if you are always anxious”
How can young women of color get mentorship in a niche space?
LinkedIn is a great place to find mentors. Reach out to people and ask them if you can take them out for coffee. Send messages to people that inspire you, and want to eventually do the work they are doing. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to people, the worst thing anyone can say is NO and that’s okay.
“Anxiety is going to appear bigger when you look at everything as whole. If you can take a task and do something little everyday, you will be more productive and less anxious. You will eventually reach your goal.”
Photo Cred ( @jockograves)
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I am able to create things and I am doing what I am called to do! I am able to bring my creativity to my work.
If your job doesn’t let you be creative; or you don’t have that dream job yet, use your current job as a placeholder until you are able to get your “dream” job. Make the most of your current job and use it as an investor until you get to Point B. Don’t get stagnant at your day job, volunteer and find other things that would help you reach your goal. There are so many creative jobs out there, you just have to sit down and do the research.
In line with our mission, what does being an executive woman mean to you?
An executive woman is someone who goes after what she wants!
Set goals and write them down. Hold yourself accountable. Get friends who can also hold you accountable and help you achieve your goals in life!
You can find out more about Elyse Fox by following ger work
Instagram: @SadGirlsClub & @Elyse.Fox