Prior to this exercise, I didn’t have much knowledge of who which stakeholders were involved with mental health. The results from our mapping indicated that it was mainly NGO’s and individuals that were heavily involved with mental health. It became apparent to our group that we didn’t know anyone famous or popularly known who represented/acted as an advocate for mental health. However, after doing some research, I was surprised to see that there were quite a few actresses and actors that actively seek to break the stigma surrounding mental health. Many of them, you wouldn’t suspect have/had dealt with mental illness, especially since they are always in the spot light and are expected to have it “all together.” Jack Harries, a famous YouTube star revealed his struggle with mental illness in a video in an effort to encourage conversation about the topic,”Mental health disabilities are an illness, not a weakness. They are an issue, not an identity.” Other stars such as Demi Lovato and Pete Wentz, use music as their way of addressing their struggles with mental illness and are active advocates by speaking and being honest in public about their experiences. It was encouraging to see what these distinguished individuals were doing for the name of mental health and it made me realise that mental illness can affect anyone but that doesn’t mean that it has to hinder you from achieving what you want in life. For these celebrities, their fame is their common tie and it is through their exposure that they aim to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Other stakeholders that played a major part in the support and awareness of mental illness were the NGO’s. There are many well known NGO’s within Australia which offer help and guidance to those in need. The NGO’s share the same values as those celebrities that seek to raise awareness. Often, these celebrities endorse NGO’s and their campaigns to gain bigger exposure and to reach the masses. For example, one of Australia’s most well known actors, Hugh Jackman, has endorsed the campaign, R U OK? R U OK is a nationwide campaign that aims to clear the stigma surrounding mental illness and seeks to open up channels of communication between one another. Hugh Jackman, features in a short YouTube clip, with other fellow stars such as Naomi Watts, Simon Baker and Jack Thompson. Other well known NGO’s and helplines in Australia include Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, Kids Helpline and Lifeline. Although there are many helplines and organisations that help aid those dealing with mental illness, we realised that there weren’t many politicians that we knew that actively support mental health. We believed that politicians and policy makers were the stakeholders that should have the most involvement because of their resources and influence over the nation. If the government could direct more funds to the aid and prevention on mental illness there could most definitely be a greater drop in statistics.
At Eternity’s Gate is one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous works, which he painted just over two months before his death. Van Gogh was an artist that suffered from many mental illnesses, severe depression being one. The painting features Adrianus Jacobus Zuyderland, a pensioner and war veteran. Being through such painful experiences, Van Gogh felt a strong affiliation with his subject and this painting acts almost like a mirror, reflecting the pain and suffering of Van Gogh. I picked Van Gogh and this painting in particular because I believe it encapsulates the raw emotion and sense of helplessness one experiences from mental illness. When people, particularly those who have or are experiencing mental illness, look at this painting they feel some sort of affiliation with the subject. This painting and many more of Van Gogh’s, although considered ‘old’, are timeless creative expressions of mental illness and it’s effects on ones way of thinking/outlook on life. They don’t campaign against the stigma of mental illness or particularly encourage awareness of mental health but rather they are honest and raw pieces that allow others to enter a world tainted by isolation and fear.
This artwork is quite different from the first. It is a poster by an artist unknown that has shared their work on a blogpost called Disable The Label. On this blog, a handful of artists have created posters to break down the stigmas surrounding mental illness and to educate those who don’t know much about it. What I liked about this poster is that it’s so simple and straight to the point. The visual reference to the chemicals sitting on a seesaw on the brain instantly suggests the connection between science and mental illness. It addresses the common misconception about depression being an active choice, something that people choose to go through and shows that depression can be the product of a chemical imbalance. Often, when people have depression, they are told to “just get over it” or “choose to be happy” but in reality the science behind depression is a lot more complicated then we understand.
Another poster I found from the same blog has a lighter and more humorous take on breaking down the stigmas of mental illness. The comic like illustrations show two contrasting scenarios of a conversation between a man and a gorilla and a conversation between two men. The first conversation shows a rather frightening situation to be in whilst the second is a scenario we are all familiar with. This contrast shows that it’s okay to be open about mental health and the struggles with face. It encourages us to be brave enough to be open and to also take the initiative to ask others how they are because we never know what they might be going through. I like this poster because it’s not too heavy but gets its point across quite directly and is very relatable to most people. Most of the articles and text I have found surrounding mental illness can be quite morbid and confronting but this poster shows that the prevention of mental illness can be done in the most simplest of ways.
This poster was created by graphic designer, Siobhan Hattersley from the UK. Her poster seeks to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding mental health. This time in a more direct way than the previous poster I showed. Her use of simple vectors, large text and the colour bright red grabs our attention and is straight to the point. The uniformity of the men and women vectors effectively convey the fact that mental illness is an invisible illness and it can be present in anyone. Also, the use of the colour red, often affiliates with health or a sense of urgency adding more of an impact to the poster. This poster is definitely a lot more confronting but doesn’t shy away from addressing the stigmas mental illness faces. What I don’t like about the poster however, is the supporting text underneath the graphics. Although it is somewhat informative, it doesn’t really relate to the stigma that mental illness is invisible and can’t always be detected. It sounds a little patronising towards the end. People aren’t meant to feel accused but rather informed and I feel that her message overall could have been communicated more clearer.
Graphic designer, Patrick Smith, has created these minimalist posters “erasing the stigma attached” to certain disorders. What I love about these series of posters is Smith’s minimal use of graphics and text. His simplicity with shapes and colour are witty and perfectly illustrate these mental disorders. The wit is not there to make fun of mental illness but rather it breaks down a heavy and complex topic into a visual that is easy for us to understand, “the designer wanted to see if he could create attractive, informative and minimalist graphics that would explain each condition”. With this simplicity it makes it easy for the audience to gain a better understanding of what these disorders feel like and it does it in a less confronting way than others.
From the nationwide campaign, R U OK?, created this poster to raise awareness for the organisation. It’s a clever poster that encourages us to ask the simple question, are you okay? Often we talk about so many things in our day with other people but we don’t take enough time to see how others are going. In the poster we see many words that act as a frame for the poster. When people view the poster they begin to create sentences from those surrounding words which cleverly engages the audience. The aim of the campaign is clearly communicated and again, shows that a single question is a simple way to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness and to help someone who is struggling. It opens up communication channels between people and fosters a environment of honestly. What I really love about these campaign posters from R U OK? is the simplicity and light heartedness. It allows others to feel comfortable and confident about being honest in their own struggles and raises awareness to those that don’t feel the effects of mental illness.
Headspace Australia, is another NGO that offers help and guidance to young Australians experiencing different kinds of mental illnesses. They came up with a series of graphics that look like movie posters which I found really impactful and relatable. This first poster shows a situation any student knows too well. In a world that is aggressively competitive and that is full of deadlines and chaos, students often feel overwhelmed and stressed which usually leads to anxiety. They feel the pressure to perform and succeed otherwise they will fail and lead an unsuccessful life. However amongst this chaos and harsh reality, Headspace lends a helping hand to those who are finding it hard to cope. The visual metaphor of exams physically versing the student allows many to identify with this feeling of fear but encourages them to reach out. It shows that Headspace understands the struggles of todays youth and is there to see them through.
Another poster from the series which really stood out to me was this one. Our generation and the future ones to come are growing up in a digital world. Everything we do is online, shared, circulated and on display. This advance in technology has opened up a new world of bullying and pressure which has increased the statistics of mental illness in todays youth. Because on the internet you can be whoever you want to be and to hide your identity it makes it a lot easier to target others and bully them. It makes a lot of people afraid to show who they truly are or to express themselves. This added pressure and paranoia can make it hard for young people to function and this poster clearly encapsulates this issue surrounding mental illness. Again, Headspace has targeted a situation that many of Australia’s youth know all too well, allowing them to feel comfortable seeking help from them and which effectively communicates the purpose of the organisation.
This poster was one that caught my eye as it was quite confronting. Often those dealing with mental illness are labelled as “crazy” or as the poster shows, “a nutter”. This is one of the biggest and most detrimental stigmas attached with mental illness because these thoughtless labels only cause more damage for those dealing with it. I think it was really appropriate to feature a young boy on the poster because a lot of the time children and adolescence can say things without thinking and those that endure mental illness throughout school are often the subject of bullying. It instills sympathy and questions the way we view mental illness. Although this poster is quite confronting it doesn’t seek to sugar coat the situation and it has a direct impact on its audience. The poster challenges us to think before we say and to realise that when we say things out of ignorance they can be extremely damaging.
1.) MTV 2016, 15 Celebrities that are Shutting down Stigmas about Mental Illness, viewed 26 August 2016, <http://www.mtv.com/news/2289330/mental-illness-awareness-celebrities/>
2.) Van Gogh 2009, At Eternity’s Gate, 1890 by Vincent Van Gogh, viewed 26 August 2016,
3.) Disable The Label WordPress 2012, “Disabling the Label” of teenage mental illness, weblog, viewed 25 August 2016,
4.) Connecting Up 2012, Celebrities, social media and merchandise – the R U OK? campaign is right on target, viewed 25 August 2016,
5.) Behance 2013, You can’t mental illness, viewed 25 August 2016,
6.) Web Urbanist 2016, Doctored Designs: 6 Minimalist Mental Disorder Posters, viewed 25 August 2016,
7.) Campaign Brief 2013, R U OK? Foundation launches quirky convos campaign to help prevent suicide via OgilvyOne, viewed 25 August 2016,
8.) Pinterest Headspace 2012, We’ve got your back, viewed 26 August 2016,
1.) Van Gogh V. 1890, At Eternity’s Gate, Vangogh.net, viewed 26 August 2016,
2.) Disable The Label 2012, Names Don’t Help, WordPress, viewed 25 August 2016,
3.) Disable The Label 2012, Mental Illness is a REAL illness, WordPress, viewed 25 August 2016,
4.) Disable The Label 2012, …because some conversations are easier than others!, WordPress, viewed 25 August 2016,
5.) Hattersley S. 2013, You can’t see mental illness, Behance, viewed 25 August 2016,
6.) Campaign Brief 2013, R U OK?, viewed 25 August 2016,
7.) Headspace 2013, Sophia vs the Cyber Beast, Pinterest, viewed 25 August 2016,
8.) Headspace 2013, David vs the Avanalanche of Exams, Pinterest, viewed 25 August 2016,
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