Renée Simone, Model: Grounded in Liberian & US Roots and Pursuing Her Now & Future In South Korea

“I was interested in South Korea before I came to live here so it made me eager to keep learning about Korean language and culture. This curiosity, openness, and desire to culturally assimilate makes certain things easier in adjustment as a foreigner. But it’s not always easy. There are times I feel like I have to have my teacher hat on– needing to politely correct racially/ethnically ignorant comments, looks, or gestures, but I understand that comes with the territory of being and looking different in a country that has been a reflection of homogeneity for decades…
Somewhere down my childhood, I learned that being a “strong” woman was a great honor. However, in my world, the virtues people praised in the “strong woman” were things like suffering and carrying on dutifully in self-sacrifice for her family, or the collective. I grew up being taught that the strong woman was defined as one who put others first, always. Always, always, others before oneself. With this in mind, I did not feel I had access to the full understanding of mental health nor the freedom in evaluating, validating, and responding to my needs, which is what I needed as an individual and woman. For a long time I separated myself from pursuing the whole of mental health– it was more of something I read about in textbooks, heard from friends, maybe saw in a few good relationships that surrounded me.

Nick Kohler, DJ and Music Producer, On Working Through Depression in School and in Work, Exploring His Own Sound Identity & Success, and Using His History of Struggle To Inspire and Heal

“Somebody reached out to me privately who said my music had been a major part of him overcoming his depression; at the time his dad was in a hospital recovering from something and he told me that that they had actually bonded over one of my sets during that time. Hearing this person be brave enough to open up to someone he didn’t know talking about something that was really vulnerable for him at the time and saying that something [my music] had this positive impact on his life made me see that I’ve experienced situations like that too; it helped me see that if i can use whatever platform I have for anything, I want it to be for something uplifting, and I since felt empowered to do the same thing this incredibly brave person did. Because I have experienced the lows, that side of things; depressed, suicidal.. I can be open about it, and uplift another in the process, that is a good thing. I have no reason to hide it.”