As we mark World Mental Health Day today (10th October), there is much to celebrate. The fact that mental health took centre stage at party conference this week in the form of the Deputy Prime Minister’s pledge to bring treatment for mental health conditions in line with those for physical health must give us all hope that no matter what the details of future policy may bring, mental health is being recognised by politicians as an issue of significant importance to voters.

Mental health has made it to the top of the political agenda this week through people being willing to openly and honestly share their own experiences of living with mental illness, in order to create a better understanding of what mental illness is and to inspire change and encourage others living in similar circumstances.

It is this desire to breakdown taboos and to celebrate mental health in all its guises that is at the heart of World Mental Health Day. It aims to encourage positive discussion on a topic which is far too often viewed by the public and the media only in a negative light.

It is this sense of optimism that we have tried to harness over recent months through our creative project, Postcards of Hope, which we launched in partnership with Rachel Kelly, author of Black Rainbow – a personal account of Rachel’s own battle with depression and the healing power of poetry. An online community of expression, Postcards of Hope is an opportunity for people to share creatively, through the medium of a postcard, words or artwork which they have founding encouraging during a dark time, in the hope of inspiring others. Each postcard that has been created and contributed to our online gallery, is as unique as the individual who created it. There are no rights or wrongs. It is simply about expression.

Early contributor to the project, Kate Holding, simply called her postcard “Hope", noting on the card “this too will pass”.  Kate explained that these words had a strong impact on her and allowed her to find the strength to work at overcoming her feelings of uncertainty and worry. 



She said “These four little words have helped, do help and will continue to help me in all sorts of situations. ‘This too will pass.’ It does, it will.”  “During times of pain, fear, despair, grief and anxiety, we have to remember that nothing last forever.  It’s true of happiness (unfortunately). We will all at some time in our lives feel less than happy, we will know loss.  But this too will pass”.

Like author Rachel Kelly, Kate found words her tool of expression but for some the creation of a Postcard of Hope is more visual.

Louise Blakelock lives with depression and shared her views on the illness by creating a picture of a crying baby surrounded by chaotic imagery and dark colours, evoking the duality of depression, wrestling with your inner feelings and struggling to communicate these will appearing physically the same to the outside world.  Her postcard is simply titled ‘Total Frustration’.



Louise explained that, while her image invokes a strong sadness, there is a hopeful undertone, as the baby will be born into new surroundings.  She said:  “There are challenges, but I am so lucky because I have professionals who are helping me.  I am still here, still alive and somebody gives a damn.  I feel like this but keep going because there must be something better than the numbness and pain of depression.”

Like us, we are sure that you will have been inspired by those who have already contributed to our Postcards of Hope project, and as we celebrate World Mental Health Day today, we would like to invite you to create your own postcard and share words and images that have been an encouragement to you through difficult times. We hope that such a creative and honest celebration of mental health will ensure that mental wellbeing stays firmly at the top of the political agenda for the foreseeable future.

Rachel Kelly’s memoir, 'Black Rainbow: How Words Healed Me: My Journey Through Depression', is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is now available in four formats; e-book, hardback, audio and now paperback for purchase here.  The Black Rainbow app is available for download on the Apple App store and Google App store for £1.40.  All author proceeds go to United Response and SANE.

Xanthe Breen, Senior Press Officer