Today is World Mental Health Day. Hosted by the World Federation for Mental Health, the annual awareness day has been running since 1992, and today celebrates it’s 25th anniversary. This year’s theme is “mental health in the workplace”, promoting, amongst other things, stress management, identification of early stage burnout, mental health wellness and support for employees.
Since creatives do not always have the security of a permanent contract, or even the structure of a 9-to-5 office space, World Mental Health Day seemed like a great opportunity to gather creatives from across the worlds of graphic design, illustration, art, film and more for a one day takeover of It’s Nice That to discuss how mental health affects them, to showcase projects that shine a light on this important issue and what we can all do to promote positive mental health.
1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem every year, and in England, 1 in every 6 people report a common mental health problem – like anxiety and depression – each week. But only 1 in 4 people in the UK reporting mental health difficulties receive ongoing treatment. If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in today’s coverage, if you would like to find out more or to donate, please contact Mind or CALM.
Siân Davey on the ways psychotherapy has informed her photographyRebecca Fulleylove —
Before Siân Davey became a photographer, she worked as a psychotherapist, running her own private practice for 15 years. It’s this training, along with her studies in fine art and social policy, which now informs her photographic practice, and Siân has become known for drawing upon her own experiences, to tell stories that are intimate, honest and beautiful.
Comics Youth harnesses the power of the creative process to deal with mental health issuesJenny Brewer —
The creative process is often an invaluable catalyst for designers and artists to deal with mental health issues, and it’s this concept on which Liverpool-based initiative Comics Youth was founded. “We saw that comics had the potential to fill the gaps in provisions for young people,” explains Jhelisa Taylor-Brown, one of the organisation’s founders. “I lost my mum at a young age, and struggled with depression and self-harm, and it was only really in comics that I found a way to deal with it all because there was a lack of support elsewhere.”
Cinematographer Rina Yang on the art of balancing life with 12 hour working daysBryony Stone —
If her social media feeds are anything to go by, Rina Yang is never not working. The cinematographer was born in a little city in Japan, and has since grafted her way into every crevice of the creative industry, working her way up to prize-winning status at neck-breaking speed: she was working as a DOP in a notoriously hard to access male-dominated industry just three years after graduating.
How Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is helping people “reclaim” their mental healthRuby Boddington —
The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is an annual programme of theatre, film, music, comedy and visual art from some of the most exciting artists in Scotland and across the world, spanning over 300 events and 17 areas in Scotland. Opening today, the festival will run until 29 October and is the programme’s 11th year, led by the Mental Health Foundation.
Illustrators Tishk Barzanji and Charlotte Edey discuss isolationBryony Stone —
Back in spring, we first featured the work of Tishk Barzanji, who revealed that his pastel-hued interiors spoke of an underlying anxiety. This month the Iraq-born visual artist is set to take over Hackney venue Palm Vaults alongside illustrator Charlotte Edey for Quiet Utopia, a joint show which, using Tishk’s signature surrealism, will explore “the importance of introspection” through large scale digital works, illustrations and woven tapestries. We caught up with the pair in the lead up to the show’s launch to talk about the ways in which introspection and isolation can be a useful part of the creative process in a world where we are never not connected.
Polyester's Ione Gamble on covering mental health sensitively, but not coylyLucy Bourton —
For Ione Gamble, the founder and editor of Polyester zine, tackling sensitive subjects was never a calculated plan, but one that developed naturally during its three years as a publication. “I think mental health is a big part of women’s, especially our age, life, for better or for worse, it’s something that a lot of us live with,” she tells It’s Nice That.
“Subtlety is key”: Rachel Levit on the art of illustrating sensitive themesLucy Bourton —
When talking to Mexican artist and illustrator Rachel Levit about this piece for World Mental Health Day she sent over a folder of archive work that illustrates sensitive content. We knew before hand that Rachel had an eye for illustrating subjects with a delicate story, but when looking through her selection a distinct style was noticeable. This is a style that hints at a tender personable thought, but also remains relatable to anyone, male or female, young or old, and whether they have had troubles with mental health or not.
Phoebe Lovatt’s self-care strategies for successPhoebe Lovatt —
Phoebe Lovatt’s new published “The Working Woman’s Handbook” offers an answer to every question mark in the minds of self-made, or soon-to-be-self-made creative females. In it, Phoebe covers how to plant and nourish a career outside 9 to 5 office work, and retain work/life balance along the way. Here, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, we publish a chapter addressing the importance of maintaining physical and mental health.
“I never, ever thought that I’d end up sharing drawings publicly”: Tara Booth on opening upRebecca Fulleylove —
Comic book artist and illustrator Tara Booth’s work is candid, funny and chock full of personal details. The textures and patterns she achieves using gouache paint give her work a wonderfully awkward tone and she brings her characters to life through short vignettes that unfold on the page.
Nichtsein raises awareness of the factors that contribute to suicidal thoughtsRuby Boddington —
Nichtsein by Katharina Schwarz is an infographic book detailing and explaining the psychological, biological and cultural factors that impact a person’s likelihood of experiencing suicidal thoughts. The book aims to promote a more open dialogue around the topic, presenting facts to both raise awareness of its commonality but also to establish a better understanding of how, usually, multiple factors play a role in instigating suicidal tendencies.
Hospital Rooms uses visual art to spark positive change in service usersRuby Boddington —
Hospital Rooms is an arts and mental health charity that believes in the “enduring power of the arts to instil value, dignity and wellbeing in people.” They work with mental health practitioners, service users and commission museum and gallery quality artists to create “site specific, inventive and compliant environments,” for predominantly secure and locked mental health units. They also run creative workshops for service users within said units.
GraphicDesign& outline three projects that successfully support and impact mental wellbeingRuby Boddington —
Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? was published earlier this year to coincide with GraphicDesign&’s exhibition of the same name that is currently on show at the Wellcome Collection. It examines the varied and vital relationship between graphic design and health, focussing on work that demonstrates how communication strategies and visual languages are employed to persuade, inform and ultimately protect. The book asks its contributors to respond to the title question and demonstrates how graphic design impacts what we notice, what we understand and the actions we take. “In short, we hope that readers of the book will think the answer to the question is: yes!”