How Sad Girls Club Is Helping Gen Z Feel Better

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To say 2020 has been a challenging year would be an understatement. In addition to the everyday changes we’re experiencing, the stress of uncertainty can magnify mental health issues. That’s why it’s more important than ever to bring awareness to mental health and to have access to resources that can help. But for those with little to no access to therapy, figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. That’s where Sad Girls Club comes in.

Sad Girls Club was founded by Brooklyn filmmaker Elyse Fox in 2017. It’s a real-life club (now held online due to health and safety concerns) that holds events and encourages an open forum for those dealing with mental health issues to discuss their experiences in a safe space, and feel less alone.

Fox — a woman of color who felt the effects of depression and anxiety firsthand — created the club after making an autobiographical documentary called Conversations with Friends, chronicling her condition for an entire year. Fox stated that, after the public watched her documentary, she received so much fan mail from other women and girls going through the same experiences, it inspired her to continue creating new avenues for public conversations about mental health in her community.

“The topic of mental illness was never discussed in my home,” she said, explaining that mental health was never taken seriously by members of her community and that great effort was taken to hide any signs of it. But Fox knew the statistics couldn’t be ignored: one in five Americans experience the effects of mental health conditions in a given year, and as many as 50 percent are diagnosed with a mental health illness or disorder at some point in their life. Sad Girls Club aims to create a community to help.

According to their mission, Sad Girls Club is based on three key points:

  1. Remove the negative stigma integrated in mental health conversations.
  2. Provide mental health services to girls who do not have access to therapy and treatment.
  3. Create real-life safe spaces that build a community for young women to know they are not alone.

This mission is particularly important for certain demographics who are more at-risk and with fewer resources. Research conducted by the Columbia School of Psychiatry found that “the adult Black community is 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems” than any other race. That’s because BIPOC communities face stressors that are less of a burden to white communities, including racial discrimination, increased likelihood of living in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, and the effects of violence and trauma based on the color of their skin. Many women of color may not have the same access to mental health care services as white people; research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that, on average, only 8.7 percent of Black adults received mental health services in 2018, compared to an average of 18.6 percent for white adults.

Most of the activities organized by Sad Girls Club live online, in the form of service journalism on their website, but also as an immensely popular Instagram account. The account saw an influx of followers after many cities went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when restricted conditions caused depression and anxiety to be more prominent.

“That’s when things went into overdrive,” Danuelle Doswell, the Club’s social media lead, tells CircleAround. “We saw a huge surge in people asking for resources to get them through lockdown, or just reaching out to feel less alone and less isolated.”

Sad Girls Club provided comfort and relief for many Gen Z and Millennial followers during the social justice movements that flooded social media feeds this past spring and summer. “We've been seeing a lot of gaslighting and dismissal of feelings,” one of their Instagram posts addressed, shortly after the demonstrations for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others began to materialize. “We want you to know that you have the right to be angry, tired, or confused. Do not feel pressure to post if you believe it would be more meaningful to listen and educate yourself.”

Their Instagram Story Highlights provide helpful information like hotlines, and recently, through a network of BIPOC therapists, healers, health coaches, and more, they have launched Soul Sessions, their version of group therapy that is free, and a valuable resource, especially for those with limited or no access to health care.

Social media can add to the stress we deal with every day, but it’s comforting to know that there are profiles like the Sad Girls Club that help educate and inform followers, and provide access to mental health resources, especially for women of color. Their content is some of the most important during this time and will continue to be valuable even after the world feels more open again.

CircleAround is spotlighting some of our favorite Wellness Warriors for National Wellness Month, running all through the month of August.

Tags: Mental Health, Navigating the Pandemic, Overcoming Adversity, BIPOC, Mental Health

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

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