World Mental Health Day shines a light on the experiences of those living with mental health needs and seeks to allow people to talk about mental health to dismantle the stigma around such conditions.


Our creative campaign Postcards of Hope encourages people to share their views and experiences, and we approached UK illustrator Lauren Reis to create a card for us in honour of World Mental Health Day.

Lauren, who has worked with ReThink Mental Illness, SANE and Mencap among others, called her card Selfie, one of a collection that seeks to engage people on mental health by focusing on ‘how it feels’.

 

She explained: “The World Mental Health Day Selfie had a little play with words, using the unfortunate but common ‘mental’ word to attract attention but having a real and serious undertone, that if we all talked about mental health more and understood more, those that manage mental health wouldn’t seem so strange.”

 

“I think it’s important to have dedicated days in the year when people talk and learn more about the many facets of mental health. The more we talk and understand, the less presumptions will be made; therefore increasing the quality of support to those managing mental health from friends, family, within the workplace and through treatment (where sometimes the approach to a client is still alienating and impersonal).

 

“There's also what I call ‘secondary symptoms’ to having a mental health condition that receives little attention when receiving professional care; loneliness, poverty, homelessness, grief and loss, which are just as debilitating and have massive impact on a person’s life. These stem from a lack of understanding within a variety of systems. These could be alleviated simply by talking and understanding and bringing about certain measures.”

 

Lauren has Emetophobia while her parents worked in mental health and learning disabilities, and Lauren has experienced how the stigma around mental health can lead to a sense of isolation.

 

“People have commented on whether Selfie looks like an alien,” Lauren told us. “This was never intended. I have experienced the funny looks, the sniggers, the loss of promotions, homes, people I have thought to be friends.

 

“In my twenties I sat in many grey waiting rooms on my own, waiting to be called, for another doctor to investigate my brain. It is an extremely strange world for those managing mental health, everything you’ve ever known falls away quite rapidly, until you’re not who you felt you were and your world is not as it once was. It is all a little alien.

 

“Art is personally therapeutic and when using it to communicate to others, it can be read in a quicker time frame than words. I think it works well with mental health, art can break this complex and issue-based message down into a single and simple universal image which allows us to speak to the many instead of the few.”

Postcards of Hope offers a space to do just that, tackling prejudice through creativity and hoping to spread a message of strength and positivity. If you have art or poetry that you would like to share to bring hope to others, visit the website.


Gemma Taylor, media assistant