Episode 11: Dior Vargas - Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist

This week we welcomed Dior Vargas to the podcast for what was a very important and inspiring conversation. Dior is an American Latina feminist mental health activist and the instigator of a project focused on creating a community to eradicate the stigma of mental illness for people of color.

Dior’s work is so important for our communities and her conviction and commitment towards social justice, advocacy and activism for women and people of color is inspiring for us all.

Much of Dior's work is about engaging people in interdisciplinary experiences (speech, photo or organizing) to raise awareness and create change for causes she is cares about. In today's episode we explore the many ways Dior dedicates herself to her causes as well as sharing her personal experiences with mental health. It was an inspiring conversation and one we are sure will spur action for many listeners. 

You can earn more about Dior at www.diorvargas.com

Highlights of our chat include: 

  • The backstory on her People of Color & Mental Illness Photo Project  which was what first brought Dior to our attention.
  • Narrowing your focus to go deeper on an issue. Dior shares the moment she aligned her various causes to stand strong and fully in her passion to work around mental health issues. 
  • She tells us about the impedes for the Photo Project. When searching Google for the term mental health and only seeing images highlighting white women and/or images of people in deep despair. Her work was inspired by this moment as she asked herself, "Why doesn't anyone coming up look like me? or like my family members?" She shares that perhaps that was part of pain and isolation Dior felt as a child growing up with mental health issues.
  • The challenges and impact of speaking out about mental health on the family 
  • Nicole shares her recent experience with postpartum depression that was spurred by her daughter abruptly stopped nursing after 2 years
  • Jes talks about the process of helping someone dealing with mental illness in their family which spurred a chat on the need to educate the bystanders and the families of those which mental health issues
  • We have a frank talk about the generational + cultural challenges of seeking therapy which for our parents was not something people did as such we grew with a stigma that many people of color do thinking therapy is some thing to be ashamed of and keeping it quiet when we started
  • Dior's bestie - Kat Lazo who is part of her tribe is pretty awesome too and we wanted to also give a heads up on her work - HuffPo or follow her TheeKat'sMeow channel on YouTube
  • The tension between honoring Dior's narrative around her mental health challenges and her family's need for privacy around their part in that journey

In her words from the Podcast:

  • "If I were to arrested I would hope it would be for my social justice work, it comes with the territory" - Dior Vargas
  • "When you are a little girl you are told where your place is....I couldn't speak for myself. I was very angry, scared, frustrated. Finally to have that agency and the opportunity to say when I don't like something I am going to say something about it. I am not going to be the little girl who is stuck...." - Dior Vargas

We also touch on some of Dior's other work as:

  • Crisis Text Line Volunteer Counselor -- "Crisis Text Line is the free, nationwide, 24/7 text line for people in crisis". Not only is it a tool for those in crises but for those around the person who need help with determining how to be support . 

You text 741741 when in crisis. Available 24/7 in the USA.
A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
The crisis counselor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to  stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals  all through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.

Resources mentioned in this episode include:

PodcastsNicole Letelier