PoC Mental Health Photography Campaign

The ANU Ethnocultural Committee is a collective of ANUSA that represents all students on campus who identify as ethnically and culturally diverse. This Committee is open to all those who self-identify as people of colour, including, but not limited to, people who come from minority Ethnocultural backgrounds, are white-passing, are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, and have been marked or marginalised by white supremacy. The Committee will become a Department next year.

This term we are running a People of Colour Mental Health Photography Campaign, and are looking for ANU Students of Colour to feature as subjects. Resa Le has participated in the campaign, and her feature has been included below in a pre-emptive attempt to answer FAQs.

Participation means a photograph (which we will take), 1-2 sentences on your mental illness and how it intersects with your Ethnocultural identity, and an optional 200-300 word story.

If you are interested in participating, then contact ‘sa.ethnocultural@anu.edu.au’ or message us at our Facebook page ‘ANU Ethnocultural Committee’. The photos will be published during Mental Health Week (week 11) to increase awareness, visibility, and reduce the stigma of mental illness in people of colour.

resa

Resa Le

You can’t just tell your Vietnamese parents that you, a Vietnamese girl in year 11, have an abusive boyfriend. You should be studying hard to make your family proud. While you’re being a model student and daughter, you feel isolated as your abuser controls you. It is when you’re in your room alone studying that you turn off autopilot, and only then do you let yourself feel that you want to die.

You open up a browser. The Internet is the only place he can’t control you. This is how you cope.

Addiction is a pathological, maladaptive dependency. You can be obsessed with Stalkerspace, but it doesn’t compare to every day religiously following and reading the Tumblrs, Instagrams and Twitters of people you hardly know from school. You have to read these YouTube and Cracked comments for 1-2 hours straight to shut off your brain. Without the Internet, you become fidgety. You panic, and you’re constantly thinking about the next time you can access the internet. It took me until year 12 to realise I had an Internet addiction, and until this year to recognise I am depressed. In Australia, depression is represented as a white teenager who physically self-harms, takes substances and eventually destroys their life. For me, being a part of my Asian family meant I couldn’t even conceive using such coping methods without the repercussions and shame so implicit in my cultural values.

All throughout school, I was a stereotypical Asian girl who didn’t socialise or misbehave. I had a long-term relationship, played classical music and achieved astounding grades. This is not what depression “looks like”, but I was still depressed. Depression and addiction can manifest themselves in different ways when you are a person of colour. I hope my story, and this campaign, helps other PoC to address their own mental health and seek help if they need to. You’re not weak or bringing shame. You are not alone.