Both stakeholders and actors play a very distinct role in shaping, changing and influencing the issue of mental health. In order to develop a deeper understanding and hone in on particular insights these stakeholders and actors (both human and non-human), and their relationship with the issue and one another, has been carefully assessed and mapped.
Past research into secondary sources has given us only a glimpse into the issue of mental health. In order to understand how human and non-human involvement can impact upon various factors stemming from mental health, stakeholders and actors, such as people, objects and influences of change, were dissected and analysed.
By working from a broader perspective to eventually focusing on the finite details, the cohesion and multiple layers of connectivity became apparent, with those who experience mental illness and/or disorder being right at the centre. To me, this demonstrates the importance of a cohesive society and the necessity of empathy and compassion within said cohesive society.
Images can often provide that something more than text; something richer, more sensitive and more emotive, especially when referring to the issue of mental health. It was quite rare that within my in depth contextual research, I came across an article or scholarly source that moved me in a way the above images do. The jargon and objective tone of voice that was so prevalent in my previous research can, in a way, be overshadowed by the below archive of images. They all act to provide either a personal or subjective insight into the minds of those suffering from mental illness and/or disease. Though I do find some more relatable than others, the images all accurately capture the stigma in which surrounds mental heath.
Nicolas Malinowsky’s Tunel Asiatique reveals his struggle to identify with certain Asian cultural aspects and his inability to find his sense of self. On the outset, the image shows a somewhat stereotypical, middle to upper class Chinese male, perfectly groomed. The kaleidoscope effect is cleverly used to unveil the ways in which cultural and societal opinions can inflict on ones sense of self and ones sense of entitlement.
Within Image 02 Australian photographer Beethy, takes his own internal experience with anxiety and turns it inside out. The image is extremely emotive, reflecting the artists personal experiences with panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Beethy transcends the inner workings of anxiety, revealing it on the outset and making it an intensely accurate physical depiction of the disorder. By doing so, non-sufferers are able to gain a deeper understanding into the minds, thoughts and feelings of those whom are suffering generating the compassion and empathy society longs for.
John Keedy’s series It’s Hardly Noticeable explores the world of a character who navigates living with an unspecified anxiety-based mental illness. He negotiates situations constructed to highlight the impacts and implications of his differences on his thoughts and behaviours, and by doing so raises question of normalcy. The series reveals the relationship between reality and perception, and highlights issues of pathology while questioning stereotypes of normalcy. These images question the legitimacy of applying the term normal in a societal context by prompting a reconsideration of what, if anything, is normal, or at least what is perceived and labeled as such.
Image 04 reveals the deep, dark pain and suffering experienced by the mentally ill. The movement in this image creates a certain chaos that resonates within the viewer. The identity crisis and struggle to meet societal norms experienced by those suffering from a mental illness and/or disorder can be seen throughout this image. The blurred sense of self that is so apparent within the piece evokes a sadness and tenderness felt by the viewer.
To me, this image is extremely important and influential in the need for a reduction in stigma surrounding mental health as it demonstrates societies destructive role in adding to such stigma. Using such recognisable symbols of freedom and restraint (birds and a barbed wire fence) the artist allows the viewer to notice how society can be suppressive, especially to those suffering from a mental illness and/or disorder. Depending on the mindset in which you view this image, it can also be seen as a beacon of hope, revealing societies ability to also encourage freedom and liberation as the birds break free from the barbed wire fence.
Lorenzo Gritti has created this image as part of an American campaign aimed at reducing stigma surrounding the issue of mental health, showing the correlation between mental and physical illnesses and the need to treat them with equal care. The image depicts a healthcare professional massaging the brain symbolising the industries indistinguishable need for mental health training alike the eminent CPR training in relation to physical health. Though the CPR course is undertaken by a large portion of the population, it is rare to be put to use. However, the Mental Health Training program provides participants with the knowledge to impart developed skills in both public emergencies and private ones. This image is extremely successful in executing its message on encouraging and generating the respect and recognition mental illness/disorders deserve.
This image conveys similar meaning to that of image 04 in that it explicitly reveals a loss of sense of self and the inability for identity to resonate that those suffering mental illnesses may experience. The movement and brush strokes used to form the subjects face shows extreme angst within the artist. Being a self portrait, this artwork can be interpreted as the artists dissatisfaction with their self and their confusion felt when trying to conform to societal norms. The entire face is blurred by harsh brush strokes allowing us as the viewer to feel the extreme emotion that was exonerated by the artist them self. We are able to, in a sense, feel as though we are the ones with a clouded, dark mind, struggling to find our own identity.
So often in todays society is Mental Illness transcended to nothing more than an adjective. Image 08 depicts this trivialisation that is so apparent, especially within social media platforms. Once these common phrases are shown together, the viewer begins to notice their disturbing qualities. This is a major problem in todays society as we continuously refuse to acknowledge mental health as a serious issue, constantly downplaying and trivialising such illnesses. The sketch-like nature of the image gives it that human touch it needs in order to completely resonate within the viewer and stand out as a REAL problem. This trivialisation and derogatory nature in which mental health is viewed is what is adding to the stigma which so desperately needs to be reduced.
Marissa Betley’s Project 1 in 4 is a daily exploration of the everyday struggles presented by mental illness. The series is geared towards banishing the stigma surrounding mental health by creating awareness. Each sketch illustrates real stories told by real people to generate real change, mindfulness and empathy. With elegant directness, she exposes the stigmas and misconceptions to which we as a society continue to cling to, isolating, amplifying and invalidating psycho-emotional anguish. Beneath the mere relaying of these experiences, however revelatory in itself, is a deeper call for compassion — a reminder that, as Betley puts it, “love and support makes all the difference.”
Image 10 revolves wholly around the issue of communication, listening and talking, that is fundamental to the issue of mental health AND in reducing stigma. Stigma is so prevalent in this image as the subjects in the artwork literally bury their heads hiding from certain conversations deemed ‘awkward’ or ‘uncomfortable’. There is an evident amount of fear from judgment, prejudices and discrimination depicted in this image. The artist ultimately aims to convey the importance of communication, prompting those suffering from a mental illness and/or disorder to talk and listen to one another, with a shared experience always trumping that of a solitary one.
Nicolas Malinowsky, (2006), Tunel Asiatique [ONLINE]. Available at:http://www.iwantyoumagazine.com/wp-content/gallery/nicolas-malinowsky/tunel-asiatique.jpg[Accessed 23 August 2016].
Beethy, (2012), Anxiety [ONLINE]. Available at: http://images.fromupnorth.com/168/515e686803593.jpg[Accessed 23 August 2016].
John Keedy, (2012), It’s Hardly Noticeable III [ONLINE]. Available at:http://s2.r29static.com//bin/entry/fe9/x,80/1242781/image.jpg [Accessed 23 August 2016].
TALONABRAXAS, (2011), The Velvet Shadow [ONLINE]. Available at:http://pre05.deviantart.net/ca5a/th/pre/i/2011/362/9/a/the_velvet_shadow_by_talonabraxas-d4kjvqe.jpg[Accessed 23 August 2016].
ANON, (2005), N/A [ONLINE]. Available at: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/9a/32/77/9a3277bcf79165ed607c622784c6d6e8.jpg [Accessed 23 August 2016].
Lorenzo Gritti, (2015), The Boston Globe Mental Health Training [ONLINE]. Available at:http://c.o0bg.com/rf/image_460w/Boston/2011-2020/2015/01/22/BostonGlobe.com/Ideas/Images/MentalHealth_Training_FinalArt.jpg [Accessed 23 August 2016].
Pablo Gonzalez, (1998), Laurent [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.escapeintolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Pablo-Gonzalez-Trejo_-Laurent_-39-x-31-inches_-100-x-80-cm_-2008_-Charcoal-and-Acrylic-on-Canvas_after.jpg [Accessed 23 August 2016].
ANON, (2014), N/A [ONLINE]. Available at:https://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/responsive/embedded/any/desktop/2015/03/29/635632672992536637-1379966102_Photo%20Jan%2028.jpeg [Accessed 23 August 2016].
Marissa Betley, (2015), Project 1 in 4 [ONLINE]. Available at: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/3085506/thumbs/o-PROJECT-1-IN-4-570.jpg [Accessed 23 August 2016].
ANON, (2015), Mental Illness Stigma [ONLINE]. Available at: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/d9/d4/fe/d9d4fe742954da07c88fb5b61e52606d.jpg [Accessed 23 August 2016].