Take one look at Tanaye White's Instagram, and you'd think she's living a dream life. And while, yes, she gets to travel the world for various modeling gigs, the 2020 SI Swim Search Winner is also open about her mental health battle. In fact, the 30-year-old is hoping to use her platform to raise awareness about and remove the stigma around the common issue.
"My passion for mental health awareness stems from my personal fight with anxiety and depression, the loss of my dear friend when I was 16 years old, family members and friends of mine who fight the battle in private, and my determination to combat the negative stigma it has within the Black community," she says. "I want to help end generational curses that usually stem from unaddressed mental health challenges. The more we have these tough conversations, the quicker we can heal and become our best selves."
That's why she commits herself to mental health awareness initiatives, one of which is #FeelGood Friday, a weekly movement she has developed to promote mental health through dancing on her social media platforms.
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"I want to show all people that there's a space for you just as you are, no matter if you're awkward, shy, an uncool kid, a self-proclaimed dork or anything else," says White. "My platform communicates that being you and sharing your most authentic self is just what the world needs."
Even though White is a successful model and influencer, she always considered herself an oddball who was often counted out of many things based on her looks. And that's undoubtedly played into some of her mental health struggles. Luckily, the impassioned mental health activist is excited to see more people like her open up about these critical issues affecting millions of people. "I love that society is becoming more open about conversations about anxiety, depression and therapy," she says.
Of course, White believes more can be done to make a difference. "With this new comfort level, I'd love to see therapy and psychiatry become more affordable and accessible for all," she says. "It's very expensive, so I think there's an opportunity for cost and demand to meet in the middle."