Hi, hello and good morning/afternoon! I hope your day finds you well. This week I would to talk to you all about mental health because, as you may already know, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. It gives us the chance to raise awareness about the state of mental health in the UK so that we can steps to move forward and ensure everyone has the best opportunity for good mental health.
We all have mental health. Good mental health is an asset that helps us to thrive. This is not just the absence of a mental health problem, but having the ability to think, feel and act in a way that allows us to enjoy life and deal with the challenges it presents. – Mental Health Foundation (1)
Personally, I don’t think I could have put that any better and if you want to read more (which I would recommend) the Mental Health Foundation have produced a report ‘Surviving or Thriving? The State of the UK Mental Health’ which can be found here.
Just to give you a brief picture of where mental health is at in the UK:
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. (2)
Only 13% of people have reported living with high levels of good mental health (1)
Reports suggest that 1 in 8 adults living in the UK with a mental health problem are currently receiving treatment (2)
The Mental Health Foundation have concluded that levels of mental health in the UK are ‘disturbingly low’ and that our collective mental health is deteriorating. One of the five steps they recommend is a ‘National Thriving Mental Health Programme to spread public understanding about how to look after mental health and build 1 community resilience.’
Where do comics and graphic novels come into this equation? Those of you who know me will know that I’m not a doctor or a nurse. I can’t prescribe comics or graphic novels to those who may struggle or have issues with their mental health. But I can say that there is a lot of amazing artwork out there raising awareness or promoting positive mental health.
Whether you feeling stressed yourself or are looking for something to read that may raise your awareness, this is my recommended reading for Mental Health Awareness Week.
One Year Wiser by Mike Medaglia
Publisher description: As we travel through the world, we are often faced with conflicts and challenges that cause unhappiness, fear, or anxiety. Meditation, or the practice of mindfulness, has the power to transform this negativity into feelings of love, compassion, and positivity. Here, illustrator and Zen Buddhist practitioner Mike Medaglia takes young readers on a journey of self-discovery. Exploring what mindfulness is and the benefits it can bring, you’ll discover a simple yet powerful truth: peace, contentment, and happiness are inside us already–all we need are the tools to access them. This smart, accessible, and beautifully illustrated guide will help readers master the art of living mindfully. Try it—and live a healthier, happier life.
Edie’s thoughts: If you’re feeling stressed or just need some time for yourself this is the book for you. Practising mindfulness isn’t for everyone but if you take some time to consider if this could work for you this is a beautifully illustrated and thoughtful place to start. There is also a One Year Wiser colouring book. There is currently research into the benefits of colouring in regards to relaxation and stress relief.
Published by SelfMadeHero priced £12.99
Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green
Publisher description: A beautiful, heartbreaking and ultimately heart-lifting graphic memoir. Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She’d sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she’d have to eat it for breakfast. But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly. One day you can find yourself being told you have two weeks to live. Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the weak, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness.
Edie’s thoughts: If, in this Mental Health Awareness week, you would like to raise your awareness of others’ experiences I would strongly recommend Lighter Than My Shadow. This is one of those books where I honestly struggle to find the words to do it justice; it’s an incredible, moving and powerful story. An absolute must-read.
Published by Jonathan Cape priced £20.00
Sad Ghost Club by Laura & Lize
Edie’s thoughts: If you do one thing this Mental Health Awareness Week – just one thing – then check out Sad Ghost Club and maybe buy a zine whilst you’re there. Laura and Lize are raising awareness of positive mental health all year round and they work with various mental health charities. They run workshops and talks on emotional wellbeing and mental health and have fantastic zines on Self Care, Not Being Sad and Getting By.
It’s worth mentioning one of the conclusions from the Surviving or Thriving report was the numbers of young people reporting experiencing mental health issues.
The survey suggests that our collective mental health is deteriorating. Overall most of us report experiencing a mental health problem in our lifetime. However, young adults report this at a higher level, despite having had fewer years in their lives to experience this. While there may be an element which reflects a greater ease at acknowledging a mental health problem, nevertheless this suggests a real and emerging problem. It is possible that it is linked to greater insecurities in life expectations for work, relationships and homes. The reasons and solutions warrant investigation.
(Surviving or Thriving? The state of the UK Mental Health’, The Mental Health Foundation, 2017)
Sad Ghost Club not only raises awareness of positive mental health but they also do so in an accessible and engaging way. They have the potential to reach out to some of the young adults who may be really struggling with maintaining positive mental health.
Which leads me to the end of my soapbox moment on Mental Health Awareness Week. The state of mental health in the UK is something we really need to be raising awareness on and there are so many fantastic and amazing artists out there creating work and sharing their experiences doing just that.
So, maybe if you do just one thing this Mental Health Awareness Week, why not read a relevant comic and share it?!
- (1) Surviving or Thriving? The State of the UK’s Mental Health.
- (2) Mental Health Facts and Statistics.
Top right illustration by EdieOP
You can browse the whole list of relevant Broken Frontier articles for Mental Health Awareness Week here.