The issue of mental health & fashion is a tricky one. All too often we see brands trying to glamorise depression & mental illness with slogans such as “cute but psycho” or “Anxiety club”, these don’t help the stigma surrounding mental health.
So how do we change this?
We talk about it.
As someone who had struggled with anxiety for over a decade it’s frustrating to see big corporations ‘cash in’ on the issue of mental health, but what about when it’s brands who are genuinely trying to start a constructive conversation through their designs? Are we lumping everyone in the same boat? Talking about mental health and bringing it into everyday conversations is only a good thing. For some, it’s designing cards with situations that make them anxious, or putting their feelings on a mug like Gemma Correll or even putting the reason for their anxiety on a t-shirt like Abandon Ship Apparel. These things don’t poke fun at mental health and they get people talking, so why when an indie brand makes a statement about mental health through fashion (or otherwise) are we so quick to get offended?
There is so much stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health and a great way to combat this is to talk about it, not to be offended when you don’t know where they are coming from, especially when the designer suffers from mental health. Ask yourself why they are designing something with that message, if it’s a massive corporation then 99.9% of the time the designer will have been given a brief by management of what they want, but when it’s an independent brand? They pour their heart and soul into their designs, they use it as a platform to talk about issues that they, their relatives or their friends experience.
Raising awareness, in my opinion, is never a bad thing.
I had my first panic attack when I was 16. I had no idea what was happening, and neither did anyone else I knew. I thought I was dying. And they didn’t stop. After doctor referral after doctor referral & misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, I was finally referred to a counsellor and diagnosed properly, the three years it took were not fun. Oh the two years they were convinced I had Asthma were my favourite, I actually think I still have some inhalers at home!
When mental health charity Young Minds got in contact about designing a tshirt to raise awareness I jumped at the chance. The design may not scream anxiety but for me dealing with my anxiety is remembering to slow down and take time for myself, reminding myself that the world isn’t going to end if I don’t get my to-do list done, if I don’t stick to my posting schedule my blog isn’t going to fall off the face of the internet, that my friends will still be my friends even if I don’t go see them for a few weeks or months, that I’m doing OK at this thing called life.
So if you would like to donate (50% goes straight to Young Minds) just head over & buy one of the bodysuits from festival fashion! They are sized small so I’d recommend a size up, but please don’t let that get you down, I had to size up too!