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“You are definitely not alone”: Using art to tackle the teenage mental health taboo

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COMICS | VISUALS | VOICES: healthwatch, mental health, youth

Teenagers and youth charities have collaborated with the Cable on this series of illustrations on mental health

Words, design and production: Dean Ayotte
Illustrations: Laurence Ware
Audio: Emma Lazenby
Photos: Pau Durà Pérez

It’s 2017, and there’s still a powerful stigma attached to mental health. With pressure on the NHS at an all-time high, it’s not always easy to ask for help, or to get it. Over the past several weeks, the Cable has explored these issues in a series of pieces on mental health, featuring diverse voices on struggle and discrimination, solidarity and community action, what’s changing for the better, and what isn’t.

For our final part of the project, a group of eight teenage volunteers worked with a Cable illustrator in a series of workshops to express their experiences of having, or caring for someone with, mental health conditions.

 


The following illustrations, based on sketches and testimonies from the volunteers, tell their stories of stigma and diagnosis, coping strategies and the light at the end of the tunnel. Short accompanying audio clips tell us what the images represent to each young person in their own words.

Click a picture to hear their testimony

Two wolves battle in someones head

“There is a dark wolf and a white wolf fighting constantly in your head. The one that wins is the one you feed.”


man pushes against wall with no hope

“When I first learned about mental health I always saw there was a wall between us.”

small person in the middle of a maze

“It’s definitely not that straight line that everyone expects it to be.”

“Simple things were hard, and it did feel like I was falling.”

“My demons are still with me”

“There was no foundation and nothing firm I could stand on.”

“You look at them and they seem to be perfectly fine.”

“Distractions, like playing guitar.”

“I just made the decision to start fighting and to start being better.”

“Just making that first leap of saying I think there might be something wrong…”

“It’s a spiral, but upward.”

“Don’t underestimate your situation.”

“You may feel alone, but you’re definitely not.”

Additional thanks to Grace Jeremy and Liam McKinnon at Off the Record and all the volunteers from the Mentality Project for their time, and to Healthwatch Bristol, who funded this project.

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  • Hannah says:

    Hi, I was one of the young people that contributed to this and I know it was a while ago, but I would be very grateful if you could share some feedback about how this was received and what people thought of it, and whether it actually changed people’s perceptions or helped someone. Both positive and negative feedback is appreciated.
    Also, thank you all at the Cable that made this happen. I only found this today and it really made me so happy to see both what the final illustrations look like (they’re awesome and I remember the illustrator that was going to draw them and he was pretty cool as well so thanks to him) and also on how far I personally have come since recording those audio interviews.
    Thank you guys, keep up the good work, it IS appreciated a lot.

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