India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
October 24, 2018

4 Illustrators Who Are Making Mental Health Easier To Understand

Text by Shubham Ladha

Using Instagram as their canvas, these artists are creatively visualising the usually invisible issues of mental illnesses

There have always been taboos, stigmas or shame attached to mental disorders, usually reducing them to “just a phase” for one to “get over”. More often than not, they’re so invisible that the people around them can’t get a grasp of what it feels like to suffer through these issues and prefer to brush it under the carpet instead. WHO’s 2015 health estimates reported that over 50 million Indians suffer from depression and over 30 million, from anxiety issues — making it imperative to talk about the elephant in the room.

Art, by its very nature, has a universal language that words do not possess. In an effort to raise awareness and show support for those living with mental disorders, a few Indian artists are talking about mental health through the medium that they excel at.

Mounica Tata

 

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1. A N X I E T Y. Social anxiety, panic attacks, fear. A very common mental disorder, 10 million cases per year in India alone. I’m kickstarting #areyouok – Heads up! This isn’t sponsored and this isn’t a collaboration with any organization/brand. I’ve been sitting on and mulling over this subject for a while now and finally decided to put my thoughts on canvas! . . . I am posting this with a couple of agendas in mind; a) to start a dialogue on mental health and raise awareness b) hopefully help people understand and take this issue seriously c) to encourage people to be more sensitive, receptive, and compassionate. . . . Trigger Warning: This post is about anxiety, loneliness, depression, etc. If these topics make you uncomfortable or if it upsets you or if you do not wish to read and engage, you can maybe skip this one ^_^ . . . Mental illness is hard because how do you run away from something that’s inside your mind? It’s even harder to explain/put in words because there are just so many feelings and emotions. The mind becomes a carnival of anxiety, loneliness, helplessness, depression, stress, panic attacks,etc. . . . Take a good look around, for you might identify with some of these emotions or know someone who needs help! . . . A lot of times, we either don’t realise what we’re going through, we don’t understand or we want to deny it. It’s ok to feel not ok. But reach out, seek medical help, talk about it. Here are a few links that might/might not help but no harm checking them out : 1. http://www.tiss.edu/view/11/projects/icall-telephonic-counselling-service-for-individua/ 2. http://thelivelovelaughfoundation.org/ 3. http://www.parivartanfoundation.com/ #mentalhealth #disorders #stopromanticisingmentalillness #illness #anxiety #endtheshame #speakup #selfcare #areyouok

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Earlier this year, illustrator Mounica Tata started the #areyouok initiative, where she decided to sketch the various forms of anxiety, loneliness and feelings of worthlessness in eight illustrations. It all came about after she quit her job to freelance and began to exhibit symptoms of depression while working alone from home without any social interaction. Through her art — in which she deliberately juxtaposed her character clad in black and red against a dull, grey background — she was able to clearly mark identifiers for others to “take a good look around, in case they might identify with some of these emotions or know someone who needs help”.

Pranita Kocharekar

After battling social anxiety through professional help, illustrator Pranita Kocharekar decided to comically draw about the “emotions of an anxious person” through her #acknowledgeanxiety project. Through 15 illustrations, she highlighted the social situations that perfectly capture the emotions that she faced — and many others can relate to — such as overthinking, worrying about things that weren’t worth pondering over or just plain indecisiveness. With every post, she reminds us that these aren’t tools for self-diagnosis, even inserting a humorous self-help aid that says “Dr. Internet says breathing techniques are a cure for anxiety at an early stage.”

Prathiksha Bhat

 

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Take control of your mental health because you can.☀️ I completely stopped posting because I’ve been going through a rough phase with depression and anxiety. I made a million excuses that I was busy, that I needed a break and that I had a creative block. I kept pushing it off and lying to myself that it’s just sadness and it’ll go away if I don’t pay attention to it. I felt pressure to post happy and motivational art because I didn’t want to bring down any of you with my problems and sad little feelings.I started the “ Happiness” series to make myself feel more grateful, but I failed miserably as you already know lol. I felt the pressure to portray myself as a happy person because I despise sympathy. That lead to me being dishonest with myself. I contemplated for a week before posting about this, it’s so hard to tell the world something so personal and then let them start seeing you through a stereotypical lens. Little did I know that all I had to do was accept it and work on it. I have a beautiful medium of self expression and I’m going to use it to heal myself patiently while I get therapy. 🙂 . . . . . . . . . #girl #illustration #Illustrator #Indian #indianartist artist #priberry #artdiary #indianillustrator #art #relatable #artstagram #artoftheday #aotd #woman #inspirations #feminism #positivevibes #life #womanempowerment #love #motivation #sayings #theartidote @theartidote

A post shared by Prathiksha Bhat (@priberry) on

Acknowledging that she was going through a rough patch of depression and anxiety, illustrator Prathiksha Bhat — who had initially stopped posting her work on Instagram earlier this year — began to portray her mental health through her art. Simple but impactful, her work is a window to her emotions and conversations with her therapist. There’s a sincere effort to empathise with the fact that change takes a while, but is fruitful when achieved.

Sonaksha Iyengar

For the 2017 edition of #36DaysOfType, artist Sonaksha Iyangar — through every letter of the English alphabet and number system — outlined mental disorders in her #AtoZOfMentalHealth project, such as A for anxiety, B for Bipolar disorder and so on. With detailed research and a sense of rawness, her art traversed the many facets of mental health, taking on a life of its own once the designated 36 days came to an end with Iyangar constantly keeping the conversation on mental wellbeing alive.

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