Stigma, Labels and Exhibition!

Mental health organisations are working tirelessly to battle against the stigma faced by people with an array of mental health disorders. While depression and anxiety receive the most exposure the stigma still lives on, so I can’t begin to understand what people living with lesser known disorders face. Educating people about mental health disorders and their effects is very important to bring this to an end and create a better understanding amongst people, though every person is different, dissolving the stigma is helpful to everyone. An image tends to be built from fragments of information, most of that tends to be gleaned from different (probably unreliable) sources.

When I had my first ever panic attack, I googled it because I wasn’t quite sure what was happening to me. It turns out googling it was as much of a bad idea as googling physical illness symptoms! I found my way on to a forum that induced another attack. Person after person telling me my life was over. It’s safe to say I was terrified. Finding the right sources for information can be difficult, this contributes to stigma as well. In all honestly the stereotype is representative of me when I was at my very worst. Maybe it’s more about showing that it’s just a facet, also I feel like it represents me less and less. I’m just speaking for myself there.

I see a distinction between stigma and label. A label to me is more having a diagnosis and I think if you step back from perceived notions of what that means, it can be a relief. Reasons for why you feel or act a certain way can be helpful rather than harmful.

Free Hand is holding an exhibition in Sheffield in October, no date confirmed yet.

Anyone who wishes to submit just needs to contact us here. Any medium is welcome, we are looking to create a Wunderkammer of Mental Health, feel free to interpret this as you wish. We will try to find a place for every piece, so have a conversation with us! This is not about romanticising or being ashamed it’s about being candid about mental health and hopefully starting a dialogue amongst visitors. Anyone who wants to discuss things in person, or come to a workshop add us on facebook or send us an email to be added to our mailing list. All work made at workshop is welcome to be entered for the exhibit too!

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