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Interview with mental health activist Coco

May 17, 2022

Interview with mental health activist Coco

Finnegan Shepard Founder of Both&

Our founder Finn caught up with Coco of @talktococo about the mental health movement, social media, and intersectionality.  


Finn: What do you think the mental health movement is missing right now? What is it getting right, and what are its blind spots?


Coco: I guess my perspective on the movement around mental health now within our social society and the openness of talking about it has its ups and downs! The ups is that so many thousands of people around the world are finally having the courage to speak openly and get things off their chest and to see the millions of people around the world, suffering the same way they are and in the same ways for instance… to have that common similarity with someone else, to not feel alone and have hope that things can get better. I know for myself; Talk To Coco was founded to be the person of voice to smash all stigmas that were attached to mental health, as I had suffered for too long by the hands of society and its stigmas and stereotypes; I'm a non-binary, black, queer, creative with Adhd and chronic illness - they say I shouldn't succeed and I'm some crazy person etc… no way! We shine with our new normal. I will continue to write every day, so the little people like us and the people like us already out there no longer have to suffer. 

However, I guess there can also be a down side to the openness and public media aspect around mental health, as a lot of people are just dong things now for capitalising, brands and people that wanted to make change for example, when I started speaking etc… was still so genuine and they genuinely wanted people who were experiencing, and could give all this through their own personal lens, now I find its like battle of the fittest in respect to who people want to work and collaborate with, especially on such important topics; now its become a statement, in the sense of the more followers or the more popular you are, then you're chosen… not for the work you put in for change and to make these spaces safer, I don’t know; sometimes you feel the world just pulls the rug from beneath you.

Finn: How do you think about the relationship between mental health and social media? On the one hand, it seems like it's done so much for visibility and helping folks out, but on the other hand it can have a really negative impact on mental health.

Coco: This is a good question, yes for sure there is a complex relationship between social media and ourselves… I guess for anyone—and I always say this—it s how we use it; social media is the tool for self-objectification and it can be a harming tool, if you use it and allow your psyche to take you there I guess. Always follow people who inspire and give you nothing but good feelings, whether that’s a comedy page, mental health, fashion… everything must be able to fit into how your mind works and a lot of people I find say that they find it hard with comparing themselves to others, and I always say well why compare, why not appreciate the differences between the two and if it is something that triggers you and leads into a dark place, unfollow! It s simple as that, and always be cautious about who you open up to.

I’ve had a number of my followers come to me and say how have been robbed of their openness and honesty by other accounts, people who aren’t qualified enough, or don’t have the education and experience… and simply are there to judge and take money or give opinions, that make things worse. So its imperative to just be on your toes, that’s all. Instagram for me I think can be so refreshing, I’ve connected with people all over the globe, that I wold never of got that chance to do if it wasn’t. Also I can help and speak to people, break stigmas and stereotypes within… for me its definitely how you choose to navigate, but that’s like anything in life right. And for people to remember its always so nice to connect with people like YOU!

I went from being labeled these awful names, to becoming Talk To Coco online and now I can relate and have so many people that experience the same mindset as me, and we create our NEW normal.

Finn: Final question. How do you think the method of mental health practices should be adapted for intersectionality? 

Coco: Yes for sure, I think there is a complete different lens for mental health depending on who your talking to and with, not everyones psyche is the same and navigates the same and due to who we are, how we identity and show up in this world, all this will have huge effect on it, and the way our mental health is and how we navigate to help tune it, at times. I always say no two people have the exact same size 5 feet, there will always be a few millimetres difference, and thats like mental heath; our minds are one of the greatest things we will ever have in this world, and it’s just knowing what works for your mind and how you need to navigate own the world. Thats another reason why I guess I started to create creative writing and poetry workshops for mental health, as a creative way to tackle traumas. It can be so refreshing and because each of us are so special and different, that the intersection between us all is what makes the beauty around mental heath, that there's so many branches to touch and experience.