After launching an organization to help young girls of color who are struggling with mental health, Elyse Fox tells Broadly about her goal to expand internationally.
Photo courtesy of Elyse Fox
You Know Who Rules? is Broadly's December interview series highlighting women and non-binary people who accomplished incredible things during the dumpster fire of a year that was 2017.
Elyse Fox founded Sad Girls Club to destroy the social stigma surrounding depression and mental health, especially for young girls of color. The Brooklyn-born filmmaker told Broadly, "I don’t want to sensationalize depression or mental health, I just want to make it normal to talk about."
Since launching the organization in February of this year, Fox has attracted thousands of girls to participate in meetings focusing on mental health, connecting them with licensed therapists, and hosting events like clothing swaps or poetry slams.
Broadly caught up with Fox to discuss the future of Sad Girls Club and her hopes for the new year.
BROADLY: What work did you do in 2017 that you are most proud of?
ELYSE FOX: I have to say, continuing to grow and expand Sad Girls Club. Over the past year, I’ve been able to see our club open up space in the world for people with mental health issues—we’re saying it’s normal to be dealing with mental health and we’re here for you and with you.
Is there any event that you enjoyed the most?
We had a poetry slam event earlier this year. It was awful weather and Sad Girls Club members braved the cold and all came out that really gross night. Over 130 girls showed up for it. It was amazing and I was so shocked, I never thought that many girls would want to show up and discuss mental health.
The Sad Girls Club Instagram often posts helpful advice about mental health. Is there any advice that’s helped you throughout the year?
One member shared during a club event that every night before she goes to bed, she writes down exactly 10 things that she is grateful for. I think 10 is such a great number because if you’re writing that many things to be grateful for, you really have to sit down and think about your day. What was unexpected, what went well? You have to think hard.
For me, I like doing it because I can keep track of my mental state. What was bothering me or giving me anxiety two weeks ago? Does that thing still bother me, is it upsetting me? How much progress have I made since then?
As the club grows, you’ve met so many new people. Is there anyone you’re particularly glad you met?
This year I met our Sad Girls Club intern, Em Odesser. She protests, she helps me with so much, she writes. She does everything, she is everything.
Your intern Em Odesser is a writer and activist—and she’s only 17 years old. Other members of Sad Girls Club are also very young. Do you think that these young people are ready to make change in the world?
Definitely. I meet new girls all the time and I have to ask them, "You’re in college, right?" I’m always shocked when they tell me that they’re still in high school. They are already so active in their personal and political lives. This new generation, they know what they want and they’re not afraid to work for it.
With Sad Girls Club, we already have Em, who is constantly busy working on something that matters to her. We also have another member Rowan, who is 16 and is already writing for Teen Vogue. These young girls all have so much passion and are they are truly getting things done.
What are you looking forward to in 2018?
I want to expand Sad Girls Club even more. We’re starting an ambassador program to help it reach new areas. We’re also going to having an event in London, stay tuned.