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Mental Health

These 6 Instagram Users Are Using Their Art to Destigmatize Mental Health

As someone who lives and copes with an anxiety disorder, OCD, mental health advocacy is close to my heart. Mental health needs to be talked about honestly and openly, and I want to foster a safe space for people to share their stories and seek help. I use poetry to cope with personal struggles, I encourage friends and family to go to therapy, and I support artists who advocate for mental health. On my ongoing mental health journey, I’ve discovered creatives that also struggle with mental illness, but don’t let their struggles define them or hinder their progress. I, too, wish to share my creative accomplishments with the world, while remaining a life-long advocate for mental health research, support, funding, and discourse. Here are six users on Instagram that are doing just that. 

1. Jenna O’Brien – @shoptwentyseven

Jenna is the ambitious business owner of Twenty Seven, a tea enthusiast, artist, and mental health advocate. She suffers from PMDD and anxiety. “Twenty Seven is a lifestyle brand created to de-stigmatize mental illness through art, tea, and things that make you & your home feel good,” Jenna says. You have got to check out this magical online shop, and the blog that goes with it.

As for her art, Jenna uses bold and powerful typography paired with soothing, reassuring affirmations, simple, yet grounding illustrations, designs, patterns, muted and colorful color palettes, and abstract shapes. On her platform and in her art, she promotes self-care, self-love, self-compassion, coping with trauma, unique treatment journies, healing, growth, strength, positivity, and PMDD awareness. She even has a collection of mental health posts on her Instagram for your perusal. Not to mention, she recently launched a digital mental health journal, which looks fabulous!

2.  Athena – @selfcare.hugs

Athena is an artist and mental health advocate who is currently based in L.A. She’s currently pursuing a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and dreams of getting her licensure as a licensed marriage and family therapist. She provides journal prompts, coping strategies/activities, various mental health resources, powerful reminders, and encouraging messages in her art. She has a calming, simple art style that features a consistent color palette of mostly cool tones, rounded shapes, florals, and various typographical styles.

She’s a passionate supporter of empowerment for all, and it shows. Whenever I stumble across her art and words, I immediately feel like I can conqueror any obstacle in my way with the effective tools and tips she provides in addition to her encouraging words and graphics. She covers a variety of mental health illness, and I’m confident anyone, even those who don’t personally suffer from mental illness, can find value in her artwork and words.

3. Nikki Miles – @nikkimiles_

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nikki Miles (@nikkimiles_)

Nikki is a full time artist who loves “making illustrations about positivity and mental health with bright colours and hand lettering.” She is also the author of Be Kind, Be Cool, Be You: Inspiring Words to Live Your Life By and owner of her own online shop. Her uplifting, playful art style features natural elements, rounded shapes, bright colors, cursive handlettering with curls and wobbly lines, and simple, yet striking patterns.

In her handlettering and art, she promotes kindness, self-love, mental health advocacy, joy, being true to yourself, self-compassion, positivity, and gratitude. Many times, I’ve featured her work on my personal Instagram story to try to spread positivity to my friends.

4. Marcela Sabiá – @marcelailustra

Marcela is a Brazilian illustrator who uses her art to spread self-acceptance and self-care. She also advocates for self-love, mental health, body positivity (weight, body types, acne, stretch marks and breast diversity), self-esteem, inclusive and intersectional feminism, and grounding techniques.

Her style features realistic, diverse people in minimal color palettes. She also features candid discussions surrounding her mental health on her account. 

5. Wednesday Holmes – @hellomynameiswednesday

Wednesday (they/them) is a London illustrator that creates “art like a ‘calming massage for your eyeballs.’” They’re also a queer activist and business owner, and have their own shop. They also cope with Bipolar and CPTSD. In their art, they advocate for self-love, self-acceptace, empowerment, inclusivity, self-care, LGBTQIA+ people and issues, joy, and mental health. Their playful art style features soft, flowing shapes, calm nature scenes, colorful palettes, bold patterns, and fun characters.

A popular art theme of theirs is “mental health checkpoints,” which have calming animations that help you to pause and take stock of how you feel. Many will prompt you to unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, remember to take your medicine, drink water, and that you matter. Wednesday’s art always brings me joy because they are such a ray of sunshine!

6. Audrey Bailey – @brushandbarley

Audrey Bailey is an artist and mental health advocate from Arkansas. She struggles with severe social anxiety and has struggled with Postpartum Depression in the past. She has her own podcast, Painted Pieces, in which she discusses her life, mental health, and business, Brush and Barley. In her art, she “strives to intertwine her faith with worship through creating, mental health advocacy, into her passion of art.” Her art style features earth tones, cursive font, floral patterns, squiggly arrows, rainbows, women with blushing cheeks, and Bible verses. She creates work that makes you feel grounded and soothed.

She encourages others to prioritize their mental health, value mental health days as necessities, create safe spaces and discourse around mental health, and to remember that everyone’s mental health journey is different. One of my favorite graphics of hers encourages people to discredit mental health myths and the other encourgaes people to spread information about suicide and resources.

Making art is healing to the soul and so is speaking from the heart. These artists do both to help inspire others to do the same, and I would like to follow in their footsteps. Mental health not only deserves more attention, but also support and acceptance, so if you know someone who is struggling with their mental health, empathize with them and try to understand what they are dealing with because coping with mental illness is tough enough and is even toughier to fight when alone and misunderstood. Remember, you are not alone in your struggle!

Julianna is a writer, artist, and mental health advocate. She graduated from Rowan University in 2020 with a BA in English and a minor in Creative Writing. She was the Fall 2o2o Media Editor for Glassworks Magazine, a publication of Rowan University's Master of Arts in Writing. In her free time, she enjoys baking desserts for her family, adding to her sticker collection, and listening to spooky stories.
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