Fighting Mental Health Stigmas Through Art

Despite the commonality of mental health issues among college students, there is still a stigma that surrounds them. This makes it harder for those struggling to have beneficial and appropriate conversations with peers. Open conversations can help reduce the stigma around these illnesses and raise awareness. The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have made college an even harder time for those that struggle with their mental health. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. During such an unusual time, It’s easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed. As a college student myself, this time has been far from easy. Remote classes are starting to feel like a chore, with limited socialization and lack of a real college experience, it’s hard to stay positive. I know many of my fellow classmates are struggling with the same issues and are looking for ways to ease their stress.

It's easy for those facing mental health issues to not feel fully heard by their peers. Expression through art is one outlet to find a voice in that struggle and can be a beneficial tool that anyone struggling during this challenging time can use. There are many artists who work to create imagery showing mental illness to discourage the stigma.

Shawn Coss is one of those artists who have been trying to open the conversation about these issues. Coss first started his mental illness artwork over four years ago. He has created many works depicting different types of mental illness like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and many more.

Shawn said, “It's been life-changing, to say the least, that an artist from Ohio is able to connect with so many who feel like they don't have a voice.” 

His series has generated a fan base of people who are thankful for his artwork because he gives a voice to their struggles in a visual format when words often don't do justice. His artwork depicts the darker moments and struggles of mental issues. Coss’s artwork is very thought-provoking and beautiful. I would definitely recommend checking him out to get a closer look at his work.

As interesting as looking at artwork can be, creating some of your own can be a good outlet for your emotions and thoughts. The Perspective Project is a digital gallery that allows anyone to submit any form of artwork, poems, paintings, or stories to the website of their experiences with mental health. The Perspective Project offers a free platform to share experiences and to bring awareness through art. 

"I work in mental health and am inspired to translate the feelings expressed into art. This 3D canvas reflects how someone described their anxiety to me. Their limbs feel as if they are being pulled and stretched unless they feel heavy and they have no energy to move them. Their stomach feels as if a wrecking ball has landed on it affecting the ability to breathe." Kat Shave writes about her artwork. Kat is just one of the many people who submitted her artwork to the Perspective Project. 

Breakout your pens and paper and create some of your own artwork. It can be a good stress reliever and a healthy way to let your emotions out.