Today I wanted to share something a little different with you all, firstly because it is something I’m massively proud to have been a part of and secondly because it is something that is sadly very close to a lot of people.
If you have ever happened to click on the ‘press‘ tab at the top of this blog, you will have noticed that I am occasionally involved in photography outside of this blog. In this capacity, I recently worked with the The Priory Group team to get involved with a campaign on anxiety awareness they are running as part of Mental Health Week this week.
This year the theme of MHW is ‘anxiety.’ Despite over 7 million people in the UK suffering from anxiety, there is still a huge stigma associated with it.
Anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety knows how debilitating it can be. Unfortunately a lack of understanding about the condition means that sufferers often face little empathy and there is rarely chance for those with anxiety to share their experiences. The Priory carried out a survey asking: “What is the worst thing that has been said to you about your anxiety?”
The answers from their survey were shocking and sometimes heartbreaking. For these voices to be heard, The Priory wanted the campaign to be immediately powerful, memorable, and shareable to bring awareness to how little is often known about anxiety. Given the power that photography can have the medium was a natural fit to do just this. Working with The Priory team and a group of volunteer actors, I created a set of thirty images to visually represent the responses people gave. Here is a small selection:
The images were featured on The Priory’s website and have since also appeared on Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and The National Student. The most unexpected element however is the response they have had from the public. The comments on the Buzzfeed article demonstrate how deeply they have resonated with so many people; people who have themselves faced the very same comments and reactions, even from loved-ones.
It is however encouraging to also see comments from others who had no idea of the harm their comments had caused. So let’s hope the more anxiety and mental illness more broadly is talked about in the open, the more room there is to learn and understand, and the more the stigma around these issues can be diminished.
It was a huge honour to be able to create these images and to work with the very talented team who did the research and planning behind it all. You can read more on the survey, advice on dealing with anxiety and how to support someone with anxiety here.
If you would like to use any of these images or more from the set please get in touch at thetofudiaries @ gmail . com (without spaces) and I will be happy to provide hi-res versions of the full set.