May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re taking the opportunity to highlight powerful advocates making a difference in their communities. While dialogues about mental health are gradually opening and becoming more mainstream, the fight for social and political policies that recognize the rights of those living with mental illness is ongoing.
Some mental health advocates have taken to popular social media platforms, especially Instagram, to share about mental health issues and shed light on the topic. In opening a window to their experiences, these women relieve others of the shame and guilt that people living with mental health issues are too often made to feel.
They’re providing their followers with messages of self-love, acceptance, and hope—without sugarcoating the very real challenges they face. In short, follow ’em!
Elyse Fox founded the Sad Girls Club after she releasedConversations with Friends, a short film documenting her struggle with depression. In response to the film, girls around the world began reaching out to her, asking for guidance and mentorship. Moved by their words, Fox established Sad Girls Club in 2017 with the intent, she writes, of “removing the negative stigma that surrounds mental health conversations, providing mental health services to girls who don’t have access to therapy and treatment, and creating an ‘in real life’ judgement free community for young women so they know they’re not alone.”
The Sad Girls Club is both an online and IRL platform. The organization holds monthly meetings in select locations in the northeast. However, it is working towards expanding its network throughout the US and has joined the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Project 2025 initiative, which aims to reduce the US suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.
Author and wellness consultant Alexandra Elle uses her personal experiences with anxiety to inform her positive affirmations and spread self-love. After years of therapy and using writing to explore her own healing, Elle began sharing her thoughts to inspire others to reflect inwards.
Oftentimes her words contain lessons about life and community building, and they take the shape of poetry, storytelling, or narrative writing. Elle is also the host ofhey, girl., a podcast where she interviews women who inspire her. Peer into her life by following herInstagram, online journalAnother Sunday, or catching one of her mental health journaling workshops.
Esme Weijun Wang
Esme Weijun Wang shares her journey living with schizoaffective disorder and Lyme disease. Wang’s Instagram feed showcases her whimsical personality, while documenting some of the challenging realities of her day-to-day life. Whether she’s sharing a new colorful hairdo or her detailed agenda planner or documenting a visit to the doctor, this award-winning writer exhibits resilience while confronting mental and physical health issues.
Recently, Wang began working on a collection of essays about schizophrenia for Greywolf Press. In addition to her work as an author, she usesThe Unexpected Shape, an online journal, to encourage others who want to continue being ambitious while battling illness.
This bruja does more than cast spells; if you’re seeking spiritual guidance, she’s just the gal. Emilia Ortiz is a mental health advocate based in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and she’s redefining modern witchcraft through her Instagram feed. With over 108k followers, Ortiz connects with her community by sharing self-reflective wisdom, advice on navigating internal hardships, holistic remedies, and positive affirmations.
She’s one of the many Latinx advocates addressing the disparities her communityhas created an inclusive space for her audience to speak about mental health issues and to recognize self-deprecating thoughts and actions.
At 19 years old, Sacha Cuddy has amassed almost 23k followers by sharing her most vulnerable moments living with obsessive compulsive disorder and recovering from anorexia. Cuddy’s followers share in her raw moments and the uncomfortable reality of dealing with multiple mental health issues.
“Sharing my story makes me feel powerful, which is something I rarely feel due to my eating disorder and OCD,” Cuddy told Teen Vogue. ” I’m that person in need of comfort and reassurance too; I’m just honored people choose me for that support.”