Mental Illness Matters

Photography courtesy of Mental Illness Matters

Photography courtesy of Mental Illness Matters

M.I.M Group Hold Art Exhibition In Upstairs Gallery

Sean Dissington || September 1st

Mental health is a funny subject. Literally at times. When I was growing up it wasn’t something that you spoke about. Depression was for the weak-minded and there was no such thing as anxiety; “she suffers with her nerves”, you’d hear someone say (usually one old woman speaking to another, about three feet from their gossip-victim). That said, looking back to even recent history, society and the medcal profession haven’t been kind to those who suffer from any kind of mental illness; and that’s a lot of us. According to Mind, 2.6 out of every 100 of us suffer with depression, whilst 9.7 out of 100 suffer from anxiety and depression together. Tragically self harm and suicidal thoughts affect 3-5 per hundred, and 17 per hundred respectively.  

Photography courtesy of Mental Illness Matters

Photography courtesy of Mental Illness Matters

It’s against this backdrop then that a Stoke-on-Trent NCS (National Citizenship Service) group decided to work on a piece that would challenge perceptions of mental health. Whilst many would agree that society now is far more supportive to mental health sufferers, there is still a stigma attached – and so any work to challenge this is great, coming from a group of self-motivated 16/17 year olds it’s nothing short of admirable.  

The Mental Illness Matters pop up gallery at Entrepreneurs, Piccadilly, showcased artwork produced by group members as a way to communicate some of the thoughts, feelings and emotional challenges faced by people who suffer with various forms of mental illness. As someone who has suffered with depression on and off, some of it certainly resonated with me.  Group member Luke Burton, and his team member Tom explained that whilst not all of the group had direct experience of the illness themselves, by researching they were able to gain an understanding of the challenges that are faced. From trying to cope, judging yourself too harshly, being told that you ‘look’ fine and the chasm between a good and bad day for those with a bipolar disorder. The pieces themselves are fascinating, insightful and honest. Mental health issues are complicated and many people perhaps shy away from talking to others for fear of causing offence – the pop up really was a conversation starter. I really hope it continues.  

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If you’re reading this and you feel suicidal, or simply need someone to talk to, Samaritans is free on 116123 and confidential. If you feel like you need counselling or some form of support, talk to your GP about North Staffs Healthy Minds. Whatever you do, talk to someone.  

Photography courtesy of Mental Illness Matters

Photography courtesy of Mental Illness Matters