For Mental Health Awareness Week: 3 extraordinary ways of bringing awareness to mental health
It's inspiring to see the originality and creativity individuals and organisations are applying to open up the conversation about mental health. Here are some examples from the US, Denmark and the UK.
In the video above the 17-year-old American artist Panteha Abareshi talks about her struggles with sickle cell disease, a chronic pain condition that prevents her from exerting herself physically, and frequently involves severe anxiety and depression and how creating art gives her strength to reach others who are also experiencing mental pain.
Her emotionally raw and graphically vibrant art confronts the role of pain and vulnerability in her life, depicting unflinching and unapologetic ‘physical manifestations’ of her inner struggles that she ‘can’t quite verbalise’. Through her work, she aims to both increase the visibility of women of colour dealing with mental illness, and to fight against the notion that pain is something that can simply be thought away.
In March the 27-year-old Dane Patrick Cakirli walked across Denmark, from Copenhagen to the second largest city Aarhus, to create awareness around loneliness. To demonstrate the point that the loneliness epidemic must be solved collectively, Patrick only walked when he was in the company of others.
The urge to prompt a conversation about loneliness originates in Patrick's own experience. On 7 December 2016, he wrote a message on an app called Jodel: "I am desperate to meet new friends. I’m lonely and going through the hardest period of my life. I’ll sit on the stairs in front of the town hall from 2pm to 8pm. I have black pants and a North Face bag on"
No less than 13 strangers decided to show up and give their support and the meeting became the beginning the network, Smilet Danmark (Smile Denmark), where lonely people can make new friends.
Some Londoners may have been shook by the sight of 84 life-sized, and realistic looking, sculptures of men installed on top of ITV's central London studios. The sculptures were placed there to raise awareness of the 84 men who die through suicide each week.
The statistics are shocking. Every two hours a man in the UK takes his own life. Male suicide and mental health is a big issue that can’t be ignored any longer. It’s unacceptable that so many men are dying from suicide on a daily basis, yet so few people are talking about it.
To stop people in their tracks, make them pay attention and inspire much needed conversation and action around suicide, we partnered with the internationally renowned artist, Mark Jenkins, and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez, to create 84 individual sculptures. Friends and family members of the deceased helped in the creation process of the figures. Each one, a poignant reminder of a real life lost and a call to society to come together and ultimately take a stand against male suicide.
Learn more about the project in the video below. Join the campaign and take a stand against male suicide here.