Life lessons for staying safe and sane amid a pandemic from Girls Don’t Cry

Photographer Danika Magdelena, Rosa Kimosa of Aware Online, and Kemi Alemoru discuss mental health at the first-ever Dazed 100 Academy – revisit the talk here

Before we found ourselves living through the now-infamously ‘unprecedented’ disruption of the Coronavirus pandemic, another health epidemic was pressing at the front of our minds. Mental ill health among young people was, and is, so widespread that we discussed it in the terms of a virus. And while talking about it has been recognised as an important first step, we are rarely afforded the opportunity to move beyond mere acknowledgement.

London-based photographer, Girls Don’t Cry founder and 2020 Dazed 100er Danika Magdelena, aka Sirius Film, cannot remedy stark generational, racial and class inequality with the click of her shutter (more’s the pity). But she did gather the wisdom of friend Rosa Kimosa, founder of the mental health platform Aware Online, for a Dazed 100 Academy discussion about practical tactics they draw on to stay safe and sane in trying times, hosted by gal-dem Features Editor Kemi Alemoru.

“It’s kind of been a bit of a mess figuring out how to deal with these emotions, but (lockdown) was a good time to just prioritise my mental health,” Danika says, explaining that she’s used the extra time during lockdown to read, listen to podcasts, and catch up on things that had passed her by amid the relentless pace of work in usual times.

Rosa, meanwhile, shared a range of tips for lifting your mood, including ideas for hands-on making that allows your mind to rest: “Even if it’s just distressing some jeans... you had that hour or two when you created something,” she says. “There’s a sense of reward that comes with that, and it’s a good way to release serotonin, which is always great!”

Addressing the pressures of never-not-working ‘hustle culture’, Kemi assured us that, “It is actually OK to have a rest in the middle of a global pandemic!” Noting the simultaneous amplification of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, Kemi shared one way that she was able to give herself a break: “A way of being kind to myself was not forcing myself to react to certain political crises,” she explains. “With my writing, with my work, I usually talk about race relations all the time; (but) it’s just knowing when to chip in and use your energy, and when to withdraw your energy.”

Watch the video above for more tips, tactics and strategies to promote better mental health from Danika, Rosa and Kemi.