Join other designer/makers by using to your creativity to demystify mental health…
Many makers use their crafting as a form of therapy. It’s a way to take time out from your problems and focus on something positive, in fact, we’ve written all about it before on the Mollie blog. We’ve spoken to our good friends the Fibre Lounge about the benefits of crafting and we’re all in agreement – crafting really is good for your mental health.
However, as well as being a tool for mindfulness, more and more makers are using their craft to also spread the message that it’s OK not to be OK.
By putting our own mental health challenges out there, we can send out a message that, by talking about our problems, we can help each other grow and offer support – especially on social media where often we only see the positives in people’s lives.
Time To Change is a social movement working to change the way that we think and act about mental health problems. Using the hashtag #timetotalk and with Time To Talk Day taking place on 7 February, the charity wants us to open up and share our own challenges, if you feel comfortable to do so, to help others.
With many designer/makers already embracing this ethos in their own work, attitudes to mental health are definitely changing for the better, but even more can be done to spread the message – and you can be a part of it.
Illustrator Kayley Mills makes positive prints based around mental health, but admits the decision to open herself up to her followers was a difficult one.
“Once I went through counselling it really helped me to understand my mental health and realise that it’s part of me and it will be forever. I didn’t want to have to hide that side of me away like a dirty secret,” she explains.
“I started by sharing little quotes or photos here and there and eventually opened up completely and told my story, the reception was wonderful.”
Kayley also reveals that being open has helped her followers to share their experiences too. “I’m really glad that my art pieces represent the ways I am feeling and I know a lot of other people will be feeling the same. I hope they help people realise they are not alone,” she says.
“If anyone ever reaches out I try to help the best way I can. My inbox is always open!”
Jess Sharp is another maker (and who recently did a takeover of the Mollie account which you can see here) creates positive reminders and products that aim to help and offer support to those who are struggling with their mental health. Jess says she found that after going to therapy her work changed and grew in a different direction.
“I had begun designing greetings cards for my Etsy shop and I guess my therapy sessions started to seep into my work a little,” explains Jess.
“As I was posting it all on my Instagram, I think it organically became a way for me to share my own experiences and connect with others going through the same things.
She continues, “Everyone was so supportive and kind and people began to message me saying how much it helped and sharing their stories with me. It became a real community of support.”
Jess also feels that putting her true self out there actually made creating an easier process. “What I create is an extension of myself and my own experiences and feels so much more natural and easy, in a way.
“I used to make textile gifts and accessories and although I loved it at the time, comparing the two businesses now, I feel like this is so much more ‘me’.”
Putting herself out there has also had a positive impact on Jess’ business. “Being open has allowed me to take my time with things and just say when I’m struggling or feel overwhelmed,” she explains.
“I can explain why orders might be a little delayed or if I needed some time off.”
While attitudes towards mental health have definitely improved over recent years, with 1 in 4 of us fighting mental health problems, there’s always more than can be done to throw off the stigma. No one should have to fear being treated differently because of a mental health problem.
“When I was first diagnosed I felt really alone and that the subject wasn’t talked about much at all, so I was scared to reach out to people for fear of the judgement I might receive,” says Kayley.
“It’s so great that it’s being talked about more and more and people are starting to take these things more seriously. The more we keep talking and teaching, the more it will help others who are suffering.”
It’s easy to get involved with the Time To Talk Campaign. Jo Loughran, Director of Time To Change explains, “We need your help to change the way people think and act about mental health problems.
“Time to Talk Day on Thursday 7th February. This day is all about people getting together and starting a conversation about mental health, in whatever way you feel most comfortable.
“Whether it’s a chat with your closest friend or member of your family – or hosting a coffee morning where you work, the idea is to get chatting and start conversations about mental health, however that might be.”
She adds, “You can also become a Time to Change champion. Champions are a movement of people across the country who use their own experience of mental health problems to change the way we all think and act about mental health.”
Jess agrees that if you can take the first step of opening up about how you are really feeling you will find others feeling the same.
“I always think honesty is such a wonderful way to begin these discussions. Everyone is so good at putting on a brave face and powering though.
“This means others often don’t realise or see that they may be struggling too. By just saying, ‘Hey, I’m struggling today’, or by opening up about an experience they’ve had, it opens a door that would otherwise have remained shut.
“It allows someone else to say, ‘You know what… me too’. It gives others that wonderful sense of relief you feel when you realise you’re not alone with your struggles, thoughts and feelings.
“I know that being open and honest is incredibly hard, but I also think it’s so important and helpful to both you and others.”