For Mental Health Awareness Week, we are celebrating five inspiring people and organisations putting the spotlight on mental health issues around the globe.
by Julia Migné
According to a 2018 study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people in the UK have felt so stressed in the past year that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. Worryingly, more than half of the adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed or anxious and up to 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts or feelings.
In a world where being busy seems to be the ultimate proof of success and where perfection is splattered all over social media, it is no wonder that stress is taking a toll on our lives. However, taking care of one’s mental health can turn out to be tricky and the stigma surrounding mental health issues is still strong.
Around the globe, people are taking actions to ensure that safe spaces are put in place so that talking about mental health issues becomes a normal part of our lives and not something shameful that has to be repressed.
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, we are putting the spotlight on five inspiring people and organisations who are working towards making the world a better place to discuss people’s mental health.
1. Jovanny Varela-Ferreyra uses artworks combined with quotes to propagate love and self-awareness through The Artidote.
“What got me really excited was to somehow hack the newsfeed with content that would make you stop, that would make you question your sense of self, your self-awareness, who you are in the world, your place, what you are thinking right now and to just make you present for a little moment.”
2. Pooja, co-founder of The Circle, strongly believes that even though talking might not solve a problem it is the first step towards taking action and bringing in change.
“People fear what they do not understand, and often people tend to tell us depression is a new development in today’s age. That isn’t true. Mental health is only getting its due attention now, and you only see it more because more people are talking about it and there is more visibility.”
3. Dr. Jamie Chiu, Mark Altosaar, and Cole Bailey, from The Brightly Project, are using technology to reach out to teens suffering from mental health issues.
“There’s a quote that’s often stuck in my head and it says, ‘In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.’ In today’s world, there are enough negative voices yelling at you. You need to fight back and be Team You. Like yourself, be a rebel. You are enough.”
4. Nate Proctor went from being homeless to having a YouTube channel that he uses to power through mental health stigmas with every post!
“When someone puts words on an image in front of you that you resonate with, that’s empowering and can help you get through the day – whatever you may be going through. I just saw the enormous impact and my Instagram kind of took off. I’ve now branched off into doing YouTube channels, talking about my own story, and just really trying to engage in conversations that I think are missing.”
5. Iona Barker, founder of Say It Ain’t Sew, is determined to show the world how relevant and therapeutic hand sewing can be for people’s mental health.
“People realise that it’s a really good therapy! Once you’ve made something, you get that little boost of dopamine and you feel better about yourself and the world and so it helps so many different demographics of people.”
Julia Migné is a multimedia journalist and wildlife photographer specialising in environmental issues and odd hobbies. She has written for Africa Geographic and BBC Wildlife among others. An endless traveller, she swears that she would visit one country for each letter of the alphabet.