Making space for mental health
Kayza Rose from AZ Magazine on the importance of spaces for QTIPOC, by QTIPOC
Kayza Rose, Chief of Operations at AZ Magazine speaks to us about the importance of spaces for QTIPOC by QTIPOC, and talks about how being visible when dealing with mental health conditions helps to smash mental health stigma.
“Personally, I’m privileged enough to have a platform, but what about other people in the QTIPOC community who, for whatever reason, feel like they don’t have a voice? It can be quite cliquey within our community and certain people are invited into spaces to speak on panels over and over again, but there are all these other people with all these amazing stories to tell, or want to be included in those spaces. They either can’t afford to go, don’t know about it, can’t get on the ‘invite only’ list or don’t feel like they’re important enough. We have to do what we can to make sure we are listening and accessible enough for people to give feedback.
“People who have a platform like myself – if they feel strong enough and able enough – need to be transparent about mental health. By doing that, we can break down some of the stigma which still exists today around mental health conditions, even by just letting people know you’re not always ok. Having social anxiety disorder isn’t anything to do with being shy and it’s not just having a bad day. This impacts on every aspect of my life and it takes a lot of work to push through that to be able to work in whatever field you’re in. I speak a lot on social media about my mental health and I often get direct messages from people who are going through similar challenges. It helps both me and them feel like we’re not going through it alone. That makes me feel better during some really sad, anxious, exhausting times.
“It’s so vital that QTIPOC create and run their own spaces. Sometimes we need a space where we see only us and that’s okay. We need it. AZ Hub is a daytime, sober, social space run by AZ Mag. This space is a direct response to the lack of spaces of this nature for our community. We noticed that we do have quite a few spaces centring QTIPOC in London but they’re always at night and you usually have to pay to get in. We wanted to create a free space that felt welcoming, where people could come as they are with no pressure to dress up, spend money or drink alcohol.
"We have the main space which we use to screen films, discuss important topics, display art, mingle or check out a stall. The Chill Room is all about taking that time out and is located in a separate room with a carefully chosen facilitator. It’s definitely about relaxing. This space was created with those who perhaps have social anxiety, depression or any other kind of feeling that would make someone want a quiet space but still want to socialise.
"The entire AZ team and volunteers help run AZ Hub. We’re like a little family – everyone pitches in. It’s beautiful! The Albany donates the space to us every last Sunday of the month which means we are able to make the space happen with no funding.”
Find out more about AZ Magazine at azmag.co.uk and @azmaguk on Twitter and Instagram.
This is a correction to an article which originally appeared in the October issue of DIVA magazine. The interview was conducted over the phone, and the team behind AZ Magazine felt the final piece missed out some key information. Our sign off policy was not communicated and so we'd like to apologise unreservedly to AZ Magazine for any upset caused as a result.
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