It's Time We Spoke About Mike


Sean Dissington || December 13th

On the 25th of November local artist Mike Holcroft held an exhibition. A stressful time for any artist, but as this entire project was in itself a therapy, then it was certainly a very unusual experience. I caught up with Mike for a chat today about the show, mental health and what’s next.

Panic Pins was born of two things, Mike’s love of pins, and a disabling pursuit of perfection that threatened to destroy his artistic output and lead to a breakdown, resulting in his hospitalisation and him having to confront that the very thing he loved was making him sick.

Mike’s openness about the mental health challenges he has faced is a little disabling. As much as I myself try to speak frankly about issues I’ve faced Mike is calm and relaxed as he talks about the pursuit of ‘perfection’ and the self-criticism that ensued when he did something that he felt wasn’t just right. As anyone who has been in a similar situation knows, this then lead to him being unable to output any work, as he was too anxious that it wasn’t good enough.


The ultimate therapy for Mike therefore was to do something that was a line in the sand, a commitment that couldn’t be broken. Once advertised, the launch evening was happening, whether there was an empty room with the lights off, a fully decked out gallery or something in between. The opening was attended by Mike’s friends and family with some by-passers popping in to see what the show was about, as it turned out the exhibition wasn’t completed, but as Mike explained, the whole point was to not stress. Instead Mike spoke to attendees and they took to drawing on the walls as well as admiring the pins that were on show.

The great news is that Panic! pins are now available to buy, the money raised will not only support a local artist, but Mike has said that he wants to support the local Mind group, as they were able to get him to help far more quickly than his GP was. This is something that really makes a difference in any health complaint – but where mental health is concerned, where you’re literally at the end of your tether, a fast route to treatment cannot be underestimated.

I love Panic! pins, I like the playful design – and I love the story behind them. I like that the artist is very open about his mental health, yet isn’t defined by it. Panic! pins for me are a story of one man looking forward, and sharing his talent with us all.

If you’ve read this and you need urgent help call Samaritans on 116 123; The mental health access team on 0300 123 0907 or contact your GP for support.