Dior Vargas Talks About Depression, Latinos, & Mental Health Awareness

Dior Vargas Talks About Depression
Dior Vargas Talks About Depression

For my latest interview, I had the pleasure of meeting Dior Vargas.  Dior is a rockstar in the mental health community.  She recently won the Champions of Change Award, a distinction given by the White House to people who are making a difference.  Something you’ll be seeing more of on Fashionably ill is interviews with resilient people of different backgrounds discussing how they manage their illnesses.

Jessica Gimeno (me): How old are you?

DV: 28-years old.

JG:  What is your diagnosis?

DV: I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I deal with a lot of anxiety and even though I haven’t been diagnosed with it, these feelings are still valid.

JG: When and how did you get a diagnosis?

DV: I don’t remember much about my diagnosis. I’ve blocked a few things from my past as a defense/coping mechanism. I remember it being through a therapist when I was in high school.

JG:  What’s your everyday life like now?

DV:  My life is much better than it was before. But it hasn’t been easy. I still experience depressive symptoms and have my bad days. I cope through my volunteer work as a crisis counselor through Crisis Text Line, as a co facilitator for a support group and especially through my mental health activism. It’s truly been a life saver for me.

JG:  How do you create mental health awareness?

DV:  I create awareness about sharing my story, talking about the issues, organizing events, sharing articles that tackle mental health​, volunteering with mental health organizations etc

JG:  What obstacles make it harder for Latinos (and people of color, in general) to seek help?

DV:  Besides the overall stigma in the community, access to mental health services without insurance is difficult but even more so when there is lack of cultural competency. ​

Related from everyday HEALTH: 6 Cheap Ways to Get Mental Health Care

JG:  What advice do you have for people facing these obstacles?

​DV:  I would tell them to reach out to loved ones and know that they are not alone. There are affordable resources out there. Going to support groups or chatting through online forums can be helpful. ​It’s also important to remember that recovery is possible and that is ongoing.

JG:  Tell me about your “People Of Color & Mental Illness Photo Project.”

DV:  The project was a response to the invisibility of people of color in the media representation of mental illness​. I wanted to create a space where people could come out, share their story, and be in charge of their own narrative.
JG:  How can people get involved with your project?
DV:  All of the information to participate in the project is located here: http://diorvargas.com/poc-mental-illness/ People can ​email me their photos.
JG:  What is your dream?
DV:  My dream would be to start a mental health organization that focuses on the needs of people of color. Another dream is to work with Chirlane McCray on her mental health initiative in New York City.
JG:  What are four coping tools you use for living with depression?


1. Identify your triggers.
2. Be patient with yourself
3. Reach out to loved ones
4. Self care!



–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno



Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

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