AlexMax Han: Fighting Mental Health Stereotypes One Video At A Time

    There has been a refreshing change of pace in the YouTube community; instead of focusing on vlogs and beauty products, the newest viral video discusses mental illness. Under the YouTube username of AlexMax Han, 19-year old Jess gives her viewers a raw and honest insight into her struggles with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Her channel only started two months ago, and already has nearly 400k subscribers and 14 million views.

    In her first video, Jess establishes that she suffers from multiple mental disorders, including DID, PTSD, and depression. Her first encounters with DID began at age four, when she experienced a significant unnamed trauma. Jess explained that she then became the “host” of her body, and Max, a six year-old boy, entered her life as an “alter”, or “protector”. In subsequent years, four other alters came into her life: fourteen year-old Alex, nineteen year-old KC and Quinn, and 33 year-old Jade. Diagnostically speaking, all five alters plus Jess make up her different personalities, and people with DID will dissociate between them. This dissociation is caught on camera during Jess’s first video, when she switches to Alex halfway through.

This switch isn’t a conscious decision on Jess’s part; when Jess becomes Alex, her tone of voice and gestures also completely change. Yet Jess and Alex describe the condition of having multiple people living in one body as a normal situation, as if it’s a big family living in one house.

The normalization of such a severe mental disorder, as well as seeing the dissociation, is why the video is so important. For hundreds of years, these disorders have been stigmatized, causing patients to emotionally and physically become isolated. Therefore very few people with multiple personality disorders publicly reveal their condition, much less put it on a huge media platform like Youtube. Nonetheless, Jess, who appears and acts as a normal teen with her dyed hair and piercings, has created a space where she not only talks about DID and mental illness openly, but has encouraged her followers to approach these topics without the stigma attached. This has already been a huge success; hundreds of comments show support for Jess’s bravery, and since many of her videos are filmed by her alters, her instagram page is littered with fan drawings of her personalities.

Jess’s channel and the community she’s fostered is definitely worth the trip to Youtube. Be sure to check out her videos using this link.