Therapist-turned-TikTok trailblazer advocates for BIPOC mental health

Simone Saunders, a Calgary-based therapist, has been making waves in the mental health community using her platform to bridge the gap in mental health support for racialized Canadians. From humble beginnings to a burgeoning social media presence, Saunders is helping to change the landscape of therapy, one TikTok at a time.

Saunders, founder of the Cognitive Corner, has amassed over half a million followers on social media, where she shares valuable content addressing mental health issues.

Her videos, ranging from psycho-educational snippets to personal anecdotes, resonate deeply with her audience.

“It’s really important to have therapists that can integrate all parts of your identity, whether that is racial, gender, sexuality, whatever the case may be,” said Saunders, who noticed a lack of representation in the counselling world when she was seeking out her own therapist.

According to a 2021 study conducted by Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada, barriers to access and uptake of mental health services are “largely systemic and disproportionately affect those with lower socioeconomic status as well as immigrants, refugees and racialized minorities.” The study interviewed 129 Black youths in Alberta and suggests there is a need to diversify the mental health service workforce.

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Saunders’ TikTok presence didn’t just stop online. Her videos, tackling the stigma surrounding mental health, gained viral attention across North America. Inspired by this impact, Saunders took a bold step forward, transitioning her virtual success into a physical space for her practice in Calgary.

For Saunders, success isn’t measured by numbers but by the impact she has on creating a safe space for everyone.

“It’s nice looking through the comments and seeing people not only resonate with the content, but resonating with other people’s experiences,” Saunders said. “It’s a combination of themes I might be seeing in the practice, things that are happening in the world, my own research and my own experiences.”

Reflecting on her journey, Saunders said she didn’t expect the social media to have the impact it did.

“It’s been really beautiful to cultivate that sense of community.”

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