Creative ways to raise mental health awareness

Quite often I talk about the importance of raising awareness of mental health. The only way we will successfully battle the ongoing stigma surrounding mental illness is for light to be shed on the subject.

Once there’s agreement that raising awareness is a worthy goal, the next step is to figure out how to go about doing it. We have had advertising campaigns and educational conferences. There are many more celebrities who have opened up publicly in recent years about their own struggles, and mental illness has become much more widely discussed on popular talk shows.

All of this helps to normalize the information and show the subject is something that can be approached without fear and secrecy.

However, these methods may not reach everyone. I recently read about a couple of creative awareness-raising projects also doing good work bringing mental health out of the shadows.

A psychiatrist in the US has created a successful, critically acclaimed superhero comic called Aura. The comic features a fashion designer living with bipolar disorder and migraines who experiences an aura as a harbinger of migraines – this symptom also transforms her thoughts into physical projections and allows her to fly and levitate objects with the power of her mind.

Here, mental illness is part of who she is and also gives her some unique gifts enabling her to save the day.

Author, Dr. Vasillis Pozios, created the character after frustration that mainstream comics usually have homicidal villains who are also described as ‘maniacal’ or otherwise mentally ill.

He felt it was important to create a heroic character with mental illness. Like many living with mental illness, Aura’s disorder doesn’t define her. As a superhero, her mind is the source of her power – but when her illness isn’t controlled, the ensuing chaos highlights the importance of treatment.

Another excellent project teaching young people about mental health is a rural radio program in Tanzania and Malawi. Farm Radio International teamed up with to create a radio soap opera aimed at young people and with story lines about depression and other mental health topics woven into the scripts.

The stories are broadcast over the radio and for listening clubs in several schools. They have reached more than 500,000 people in these countries and several thousand have reached out for mental health services as a result.

These are just a couple of ways people around the world are working to battle stigma and get accurate and accessible information out about mental health issues.

If you think you might be experiencing a mental health issue, speak with your doctor about it. You are not alone and help is available. 




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