Mental illness is something that many of us will have to face in our lifetime. Whether it affects us directly or affects our loved ones, it is ever-present.
While things are much better than they have been, there are still a lot of discussions to be had about the stigma around mental illness, and how to best be there for one another.
Instagram | @sow_ay
I think the only way we will ever get to do this properly is by being open and listening to the stories of people who have been there firsthand. These 12 artists have used their talents to share their view points and process.
Ruby posts regularly on her Instagram perfectly simplistic comics and illustrations about the struggles and road blocks she faces each day. We need to do better at understanding this everyday level of struggle.
The sweetest part?
Ruby answers questions and supports users who ask her about their struggles, sharing her experiences. This is really important and makes the world of difference to those people, I’m sure.
Known better on Instagram as @chuckdrawsthings, Chuck has amazing, short comics centered around pigeons and their inner thoughts. She tells of her experiences through them and the result is light and accessible.
She touches on things that some people may not realize.
Like how mental illness will affect someone’s creativity or how medication makes things different, but not always better right away.
3. Gemma Correll
Gemma’s drawings are a delight, even if they touch on heavy things. They are simple and make sense for someone who may not be familiar with mental illness.
Her work also creates a sense of community.
Because people who have been where she is can see that they’re not alone, and in each of her posts she adds a gentle reminder that it’s okay not to be okay.
4. Elliana Esquivel
While Eilliana’s art isn’t always directly about mental health, her work certainly is relatable for anyone who has felt its presence and confusion.
Sometimes we just need simple ways to express the absent feeling of being unwell.
5. Katia Oloy
Katia created a series of drawings sharing her experiences through the much loved and famous story of Alice in Wonderland. In
“I am sharing my journey with you all: I’ve found externalizing my anxiety to be helpful and freeing. I hope it helps anyone out there who can relate to the challenges anxiety presents.
Remember you are brilliant. And you are not alone.”
6. Toby Allen
In his Real Monsters project, Allen does something important and that makes mental illness something tangible for people to see and understand.
Of his project, he says,
“I hope to draw attention to mental illnesses that often get ignored or aren’t taken as seriously as they should. I want to make people aware of how damaging these illnesses are and how much of a burden they can be to those who suffer from them. The project highlights conditions that some people may have never even heard of, so the work aims to raise awareness for these.”
7. Shawn Coss
Shawn Coss rightfully gained a lot of internet fame for his Inktober drawings of mental illness last year.
People were telling all their stories and experiences in the comments.
While mental health is something that we can all hope to support and understand, it doesn’t just change how much of a monster they can feel like.
8. Marissa Betley
Marissa Betley is both the found and illustrator of Project 1 in 4. The project started as a hundred-day challenge to express her support for a cause that’s very important to her.
Now it’s grown into an organization that is working diligently to erase the stigma around mental health.
All the illustrations she creates are simple and powerful and based on real stories people have shared with her of their journey. Check out more on her Instagram!
9. Zoe Emma
Zoe Emma uses her skills to help her work through and understand her mental health. Each drawing is part of a process of healing and understanding. In most of her work, you can feel how isolating it can be to struggle with your mental health.
In an interview with Dazed, she said,
“Many can shame the conditions due to not fully understanding the effects they cause. This can result in someone with mental health problems to feel isolated and discriminated against. Just because it isn’t always visible on the outside, you can’t dismiss that it’s the same for the inside. It’s important people can understand the real facts behind mental health in order to put a hold on myths like these being spread.”
10. Myriam Tillson
Myriam Tillson is another artist who is using Inktober to create drawings that express different feelings related to mental health, and she often personifies them.
With each post, she encourages people to reach out.
Instead of assigning what she believes each image represents, she wants to know what someone feels or thinks of when they see it — something that will go a long way in keeping the conversation alive.
11. Nosipho Nxele
Nxele is a powerful artist using her craft to talk about the stigma around mental health, especially in women. In her work, she has various groups of illustrations that express different kinds of oppression and feelings that can come from the taboo of ignoring mental health.
She combines her own experiences with her love of philosophy.
In particular, she has uses the ideas of Descartes and his book, Meditations on First Philosophy. Using her own experiences and his teachings, she is rebuilding the misconceptions she had growing up, that we can all learn from.
12. Sow Ay
Sow Ay is an artist who has recently taken to drawing to help him express his mental health journey because he doesn’t always feel like he has the words to talk about it. He’s been very candid about his anxiety and depression, even though initially the thought of sharing made him terrified.
It’s important to remember that it isn’t always easy to be honest and upfront about this stuff.
Remember that mental health is something that is serious and often uncomfortable to talk about, and even more difficult for people who struggle with it to explain or understand themselves.
If you or someone you know is facing mental health issues, know that you are not in it alone.
Share this article so we can keep the conversation and open — and if you want to, share your story with us in the COMMENTS.