These Latinas Will Give You The Mental Health Boost You Need

credit: Instagram / Dior Vargas / Marcela Sabiá

While Latinas show similar susceptibility to mental illnesses as anybody else in the country, we have less access to treatment. Disparities, like the lack of health insurance, poverty, language barriers and immigration status, can make necessary care unfeasible, and without treatment, our community is at a greater risk of severe and persistent forms of mental health conditions. For support, many of us are turning to social media, where we find encouraging affirmations and a network to lean on.

Although social media, particularly photo-sharing platforms like Instagram, can bring high levels of anxiety and depression, these spaces are also being used by Latina mental health activists who want to bring wellness to their hermanas. While these digital healing spaces should not replace therapy with a licensed professional or prescribed medication, memes help to destigmatize mental illness, images of women of color survivors offer representation that show us we are not alone and quotes give us the strength and motivation to carry on our recovery and self-love journeys.

Ahead, seven Latina mental health advocates you should be following on social media.

1. Dior Vargas

Dior Vargas is a queer Ecuadorian-Puerto Rican-Italian feminist mental health activist. In 2015, the New York-based Latina started the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project, which aims to bring visibility to sufferers of color, who have long been left out of mental health media representation and research. Vargas, who is currently working toward a Master’s in Public Health at NYU’s College of Global Public Health, has received several awards for her activism, including The White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations.

Catch her on Twitter spreading mental health resources and news.

2. Marcela Sabiá

So this photo was taken by my dear friend last year when I did a photoshoot. We were not the only people doing photos that day – it was part of a photographers & models meet up so they could improve portfolios. A small group of girls were modeling and even tough they had different features, all of them were really thin – except me. One girl was absolutely gorgeous – specially to society’s beauty standards – and everybody wanted (and fighted) to get a picture of her, of course. Eventually I was photographed by almost all of them and it was cool, but it was also clear I wasn’t the “ideal type” for a photoshoot. I’m curvy, I have big boobs and a lot more weight than any model there – so they wouldn’t spend much time on me and I couldn’t help but notice it. After posing, my friend quickly sent me my photos and it was awesome to see how beautiful I could look and feel – it made my day and I felt amazing. Others said they would gradually update their feeds with photos and I was excited and hoping to see some of mine. Well, I didn’t. The obvious gorgeous girl appeared in so many posts with different poses, colors and scenarios – while only two photographers updated a single picture of me. The other girls were not posted as much as the first one, but they definitely got a lot of pictures too. What I’m trying to say is that is very easy to feel like you are not good or pretty enough when you see yourself in some environments where beauty standards still are very much valued. So stay away from them if you can. I felt a little bit down and frustrated for not seeing any of the photos I took that day but I’m glad I could have this experience to share this with you. You don’t have to be thin to be beautiful, period. There is a lot of plus size/curvy models rocking out there to remind us that. Don’t be afraid to pose, to take pictures of yourself and feel gorgeous. Beauty is much more than our weight and I still want to do a lot of photoshoots – we just need eyes that see beauty everywhere ??#bopo #bopogoals #bopowarrior #bodypositivity #bodypositive #fuckbeautystandards #effbeautystandards #selflove

A post shared by Marcela Sabiá (@marcelailustra) on

Marcela Sabiá is a Brazilian illustrator using art to help followers who are dealing with mental illnesses. The 26 year old, who lives with depression and anxiety, often writes messages of hope along with her colorful designs. “Scars mean you can heal and survive,” reads one. “It’s OK to ask for help,” notes another. Sabiá takes her work one step further by also including anecdotes from therapy sessions or lessons she has learned as captions to her posts.

For beautiful visual inspiration on your feed, follow Sabiá on Instagram.

3. Gloria Lucas

Esta es me. ? @painbrushheart

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Gloria Lucas is a Los Angeles-based Xicana body positive activist. An eating disorder survivor, she created Nalgona Positivity Pride, a Xican@-Brown*-Indigenous body positive site, to bring representation and ED awareness and resources to communities of color. Through NPP, Lucas hopes to connect the relationship between historical trauma and oppression — like racism, colonialism, ableism and homophobia — and eating disorders.

Follow Lucas via NPP for education and support on decolonizing the body and body love on Instagram and Facebook.

4. Cinderella “Ella” D’jibri

[30 Post in 30 Days – Post 24] ———————————- All about that smoothie life, swipe left ?? for the recipe and instructions. This is #day9smoothie of the #10daygreensmoothiecleanse however, I am not on Day 9, I just really enjoy this recipe. Read the rest of this caption to know more about why I am indulging in this #smoothie today. So, a few weeks back, I did a 9 day #detox , 4 days of #juicing and 5 days of smoothies. I felt great, my bloating went down and I lost 8 pounds. Initially this 9 day cleanse was suppose to be 15 days, however I had a set back due to an emotional response that I had when I received some stressful news. Even though, my body did not crave junk food, I began to binge eat, because that is my coping mechanism. Eating and sleeping, when I get depressed or anxious is a habit that I am desperately trying to break. Consistency is difficult when you suffer with #bipolardepression because the illness itself is all about ups and downs. People who battle with #bipolardisorder understand that we are so susceptible to our triggers. It was awful going from an extreme high to an extreme low, but a part of my recovery is understanding the difference between a #setback and #failure ?. I didn't fail on my cleanse, I went a whole 9 days and that is a victory that I can bask in. If I did it once, then I can do it again. And, one thing is for sure, the food that enters my body contributes to my overall well being especially my mental and emotional well being. So, I have decided to give it another go, except with a different approach. I promise to give you the details within the coming weeks. For now, feel free to chat with me by sharing your thoughts, experiences and opinions in the comments below. ?????????? ———————————- #detox #cleansing #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #blackmentalhealth #blackmentalhealthmatters #selflove #selfcare #mentalillness #motivationmonday #motivation #wellness #wellnesszone #wellnesswarrior #mentalhealthwarrior #foodshare #smoothielife #cleaneating #recipeswap #smoothierecipe

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Cinderella “Ella” D’jibril is a Peruvian mental health activist who uses her blog, Ella Speakz, and podcast, Building You Up, to discuss black mental health, body image and self-help. The Washington, D.C.-born and New Mexico-living Afro-Latina is currently a certified peer support worker and is completing her studies in clinical mental health counseling. When she’s not creating new content, she’s sprinkling messages of self-love, moving on and healing throughout her social media accounts.

Follow Ella on Instagram for notitas that will help get you through the day.

5. E Ortiz

? @atomicmakeupnyc gloss: dressed up ?

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Emilia Ortiz is a bruja, spiritual adviser and mental health advocate based out of Brooklyn, New York. The puertoriquena often takes to Instagram to provide video advice sessions on a series of topics, from maintaining hope and protecting your space to making peace and knowing your value. But that’s not all. Her social media is also filled with relatable memes and poetry that will make you laugh, smile and cry through your healing.

Catch Ortiz’s words, and illuminating glow, over on Instagram.

6. Vero Higareda

Vero Higareda is a Mexican mental health advocate who started and runs Spark Bracelets, a company that makes bracelets to inspire people to start conversations about mental health. The Austin, Texas-based mujer wants to help destigmatize mental illness and help normalize behaviors and language that are oftentimes considered taboo in Latinx communities. Her hope: that once people lose the shame about their mental health they can begin to live a good and happy life.

Follow Higareda on Facebook and Instagram for informative and motivational posts.

7. Erica Leon

As an eating disorder dietitian, I see every single day that people really do recover!! There is a light at the end of the tunnel if you put in the work, choose recovery, and trust the process. It can be especially tough at this time of the year, so remind yourself what your values are, and double down on support! You’re worth it! . . . Interested in making peace with food, learning more about intuitive eating, rejecting the diet mentality, and finally living your life without obsessing over your weight? As a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor with over 20 years of experience, I bring you the Intuitive Eating Basics 101: Finding Food Peace and Body Freedom Forever online course. Start your journey today! (link in profile) . . . #haes #intuitiveeating #edrecovery #antidiet#riotsnotdiets #effyourbeautystandards#losehatenotweight #nourishnotpunish#recoverywarriors #balancednotclean #foodisfuel#prorecovery #bodyposi #bodypositive #bopo#realrecovery #allfoodsfit #intuitiveliving #selflove#nutrition #dietitian #healthateverysize#nutritiontherapy #virtualcounseling #RD2be #rd

A post shared by Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CEDRD (@ericaleonnutrition) on

Erica Leon is a New York-based eating disorder specialist and dietitian nutritionist. With degrees from Cornell University and New York University, the Latina helps ED sufferers recover through a non-diet and Health At Every Size approach. On Instagram, Leon often shares body love quotes, affirmations and research-backed data over colorful imagery.

Follow her on the ‘gram for wellness tips and inspo!

READ: Selena Gomez Talked About Why Mental Health Breaks From Social Media Are Important

Let us know who you’d add to the list in the comments below!