'They don't see the humanity in us': Dior Vargas on mental health activism, racism and social change

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Dior Vargas

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A couple of years ago, Dior started an online photo project looking at immigrant, people of colour communities and mental health. Since the launch of her project, Dior has been touring the country as a sought-after speaker at numerous mental health advocacy conferences and has been honoured at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us Conference and was the keynote speaker at the Suicide Prevention Week gathering this past Monday at the University of Texas, in Austin. Most recently, Dior was honoured as a Champion of Change for Mental Health and Disabilities at the White House in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I spoke with Dior in her home city of New York over the summer where she shared her own personal struggles with depression, and the intersection of mental health, racism, sexism and more.


Dior Vargas is a Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist. She is a CrisisTextLine crisis counselor and a facilitator for the Young Adult Support Group at NAMI-NYC Metro. She is also a member of NAMI-NYC Metro's Young Professionals Advisory Board.

​For the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Dior was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations. She was chosen as a Voices of the Year honoree at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us Conference for her online photo project, People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project. She holds a B.A. in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College and an M.S. in Publishing from Pace University.

​Dior lives in New York City.



Fiercest thank you to my guests, Dior Vargas and Sharon H. Chang, as well as to Elysse Cloma, whose talent and generosity made this episode possible.

And of course, thank YOU fierce listeners and supporters. Without your ears, MsRepresent wouldn't be here for a second season.

MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman can also be found at msrepresentpodcast.com


Intro/outro music: "Rainbow" by Emilie Simon. Remix from the original.

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