Thursday, February 1 is national ‘Time to Talk’ day, during which people are asked to talk and learn about their own and others mental health.
This goal is close to the heart of The Perspective Project, a London-based initiative which shares art made by people with mental health problems to promote discussion and reduce stigma around the topic.
The website showcases prose, poetry, painting, videos, photos and other artwork. Submissions explore a wide range of issues, from anxiety and depression to self-harm, substance abuse and dealing with the aftermath of trauma.
Since its launch in September, the site has hosted the work of more than 50 contributors. It is planning to expand offline this year, moving into physical exhibitions and collaborating with local charities.
The Perspective Project was founded by 24-year-old Mark Anscombe, a 24-year-old who lives in Hackney.
Explaining his motivation for the project, Mr Anscombe said: “I think my generation is better any generation before about talking about mental health, but there is a long way to go.
“We share large swathes of our lives and our experiences on social media, but this is often only a superficial, glamorous and cultivated image of ourselves.”
Whilst at university, Mr Anscombe worked on a confidential phone support service where he learned how beneficial sharing mental health problems could be for sufferers.
He said: “Volunteering for Nightline I saw the value that people found in expressing their feelings and thoughts in an anonymous setting, and having their expression validated and supported.
“Many people use art, writing and poetry to express themselves. Similarly, many people connect to art and poetry in a powerful, emotional way.
“It is my hope that our project gives a therapeutic outlet for those expressing their mental health issues through art, whilst combating stigma that arises from public misunderstanding and inability to truly empathise.”
Discussing his favourite submissions, Mr Anscombe cites #100DaysofBulimia and #100DaysofBipolar, by Janet Ford, as well as poetry by John Carpenter about his experiences with PTSD and depression.
However, he is keen to stress that all the work on the cite resonates and moves him, saying: “So much of the work we receive on a daily basis amazes me.”
This feeling is shared by both those who have shared their stories on site and its 100,000 plus viewers.
“Some of our artists have never shared their art with anyone, let alone the public,” Mr Anscombe noted.
“It is humbling to receive some wonderful feedback from people who have never had their story listened to, cared about or shared.”
The Perspective Project welcomes all submissions about any issues relating to mental health. Submissions can be made anonymously. The project can be found at www.theperspectiveproject.co.uk