“Day By Day”, composite image: digital photograph and found image, c-print 30″ x 20″, 2017

Bringing Awareness to an Invisible Illness

“1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness, and 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have, or will have a serious mental illness.” (NAMI: Mental Health By the Numbers) If not personally affected by mental illness, then you most likely know someone who is.  It is an invisible disease, but the struggles are real.  The physical pain it causes is also real.  I chose to bring awareness to this for my Social Change Project because mental illness is personal for me.  Several people in my family tree, myself included, have struggled during their lifetime, or are currently struggling with mental illness.  To make matters worse, my oldest daughter has inherited way more than her fair share of anxiety related disorders, and my youngest daughter was not spared the grasp anxiety can hold on a person either.  The guilt this causes me can be stifling at times.  It wasn’t until my children grew into teenagers that I realized exactly what was causing the issues, not only in them, but in myself as well.  The common thread in my family history finally became apparent.

So, for me and my family, we were born this way, but often mental illness can be the result of abuse, or life experience such as with PTSD in war veterans.  Unfortunately, getting help is difficult because of shame, lack of affordable health care coverage for mental health, and lack of awareness and understanding.  Mental illness is invisible, until it is not.  Of those who commit suicide, 90% have an underlying mental illness. *  Mass shootings are another example of the great disconnect we have as a society in taking care of our mentally ill.  Many of those who suffer with mental illness are some of the most successful or accomplished people we know!  Think about Robin Williams, Abraham Lincoln, the well-organized stay-at-home mother, the business executive, the college student with a 4.0 G.P.A., well-known artists…the list goes on.  The invisible nature of mental illness further complicates things and causes those who suffer to often not seek help.  May is Mental Health Month, so the timing for this project is perfect.  I will bring awareness to the invisibility of mental illness through my photography.  I am planning to work with self-portraits that may include some post production manipulation through craft by hand and/or Photoshop.


NAMI: Mental Health By the Numbers

The Scarier Side of Invisible Illness

Mental Illness: What You See / What You Don’t See (YouTube Video)

The Huffington Post, The Blog: Too Many Self-Inflicted Deaths, 01/25/1027

Mental Health America – May is Mental Health Month

Fine Art Photography References:

Natasha Davenport

Interview: Photographer (Janelia Mould) Explores Own Depression with Surreal Self-Portraits

Janelia Mould: Cheeky Ingelosi Photography

PowerPoint Presentation:

PowerPoint Presentation: Social Change Project