1 in 4 of us, on both sides of the Atlantic, live with mental illness. Fact.
Despite this statistic mental illness is still incredibly stigmatized.
Because banishing the stigma of mental illness starts with awareness, and awareness begins with education, mindfulness and empathy.
What has been most shocking to me is the more I talk about mental health, it seems everyone can relate to the topic, yet so few are talking about it.
The question is, how can stigma be broken down effectively. In all likelihood there is not just one way. After all, if you haven’t experienced it how can you possibly be expected to understand what the reality of living with mental illness is really like.
Organisations like Time to Change actively try to educate using the words of those who have experienced it first hand. People like me willing to share their stories to break down misconceptions. One such person is artist Marissa Betley who has taken a fresh approach in addressing the daily struggles faced by people living with mental illness through thought-provoking illustrations.
I thought, if I could just find a real human way to raise greater awareness then maybe I could help break down the stigmas surrounding mental illness that are preventing people from getting the help they need. Maybe the project could even save lives.
Further to conducting interviews with people diagnosed with a range of disorders Marissa is raising awareness for mental health issues with the creation of Project 1 in 4. For 100 days Marissa has been illustrating what it is like to live with mental illness.
Each story has been unique and I have been incredibly inspired by the constant thread of courageousness and bravery showcased by everyone I have interviewed.
Nobody deserves to suffer like this, let alone in silence.
Marissa’s images pack a punch and for those of us in the know are easy to relate to. This is Me:
I’ve seen first hand how serious and debilitating these illnesses can be. They can be remarkably devastating. While professional help is key, what’s equally important is unwavering support from family and friends.
If you can relate then never forget you are not alone. If you are reading this and have never experienced any form of mental illness then please remember;
[We] are your family members, your friends, your co-workers and your neighbors. Love and support makes all the difference.