Filmmaker founds mental health community for women

- After a particularly tough year and breakup, Brooklyn native and filmmaker Elyse Fox, 27, recently made a short documentary about her struggle with mental illness and posted it online.

"I wanted to show people that even with all these great things going on and all these festivals and all these fun activities I'm doing on Instagram, I'm still internally not happy," she said. "And this is what depression looks like.

The film – Conversations with Friends – resonated big time, particularly with other young girls experiencing the very same thing who felt like they had nowhere to turn.

"Once I released the film, almost immediately I received feedback from girls all around the world," Fox said. "I remember the first girl to hit me up was from Paris and she said she was struggling. From there –

there was another girl from London and India and then all around New York City. So I wanted to create something for girls that was in real life and where girls can connect."

That something came in the form of the Sad Girls Club, an in-person and online meet-up where women struggling with mental health issues can get together to talk about coping.

"If there's something that was really impactful throughout the day that was negative, let's talk about it, let's see what happened and how you can react in a different way next time," Fox said.

Because she isn't a mental health professional, she enlisted the help of therapist Shira Burstein. Since February they've put on a different event each month.

"They can range from a panic to a poetry slam to a meditation ritual at a meditation dome," Fox said. "I want to attract different types of girls for each event so I try to make each one unique."

Em Odesser, 16, found Sad Girls Club through Instagram.

"I've been struggling with depression and anxiety for a really long time and so to find this community that's really feminist and really uplifting and talks and works so hard to destigmatize these things that so many teenagers are facing, it's just really empowering and encouraging," Odesser said.

The group has reached girls who can't afford a therapist, or may not even know where to look to find one.

"The mental health conversation isn't something that happens day to day or in schools or something that's normal or something that's accessible for everyone," Fox said. "This is why I'm creating an outlet for girls who might not be able to afford therapy or a community or even talk about mental health within their own world."

Fox has already expanded her efforts to D.C. and now wants to take the Sad Girls Club global.

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