Even in 2020, there's still a stigma around mental health—one that Elyse Fox is all too familiar with. After a suicide attempt left Fox in the hospital on a 72-hour observation hold, she launched Sad Girls Club, a community for women who battle with depression with a focus on mental wellness.
Fox sat down with Blavity to share how she turned some of her most challenging years into an empowering community for minority women.
In 2017, Fox, who was 23 years old at the time, said she found herself living in Los Angeles, California, and in an abusive relationship of five years. She recalled often hiding behind fake smiles, leading her family to believe she was happy and that life was "gucci."
"I was suffering inside and I didn't really know what was going on. I didn't have the language. Growing up we never spoke about mental wellness in my household," Fox told Blavity.
It wasn't until she attempted suicide that she was diagnosed with depression and started her healing journey. She went on to document her "worst year of depression" which later sparked interest from people in similar situations who yearned for a community during their mental health journey.
It was that pivotal moment she said that birthed the idea of Sad Girls Club which originated on Instagram before propelling into a national community.
"It was just an Instagram page where I kinda migrated the people who saw my film and wanted help," Fox said. "I will provide any resources that you want to learn about. I will give you all the facts. I will make sure that I fact check and you have everything you need to feel supported."
Sad Girls Club eventually transitioned into a nonprofit that targets millennials and GenZ women of color and of immigrant descent.
"A lot of women who are first-generation Caribbean or from African descent, they've never spoken about their mental health and that conversation cannot be held in their homes till this day," Fox said.
After hosting their first event in February of 2017, Fox said "it was the most beautiful space I've ever experienced."
"For the first time, I saw women my age. Immigrant women. Women of color who were a lot older speaking about their experiences in a way that has never been done before," she recalled.
During their events to remove the negative stigmas surrounding mental health, Fox said she often meets women who aren't supported throughout their journey of healing.
Since its origination, the nonprofit has held financially affordable events in three different countries, with its total reaching five continents. Aside from local meetups, Sad Girls Club hosts a web series titled "Ask A Therapist" where followers can ask questions to mental health professionals.
In addition, the organization partners with various businesses and brands to break the stigma of mental health.
"We've launched a run club with Nike to show our girls you can get out and run as a coping mechanism," Fox said.
Sad Girls Club continues to be a resource to hundreds of women while promoting the responsible usage of social media as a platform of healing.
"Social media can be a toxic place so we really preach about how to use it responsibly," Fox said.
As for what's in the near future for Sad Girls Club, Fox said the organization is launching Sad Moms Club and Sad Boys Club.
"I am a new mom and there are so many struggles I face with just dealing with postpartum and pregnancy in general and I feel like no one talks about these things. They should be normal," she said. "We soft-launched Sad Boys Club last year and we held an event at LeBron James' office in New York City and it was completely sold out. And for the first time in my life, I saw men speaking out and being vulnerable about their feelings.
Through it all, Fox encourages people to check up on their "strong friends" and hold conversations to genuinely see how your loved ones are doing. She said overall, we can do a better job of having simple conversations that could change the lives of our family and friends.
Watch the full video interview with Fox below:
If you or someone you know is coping with depression, visit HalfOfUs.com for additional resources.