On the 18th October, The Photography Movement launched the second exhibition in the Exposure Gallery series in partnership with Refinery29 and photographer Flora Maclean. Showcasing a collection of images that explore the visual representation of mental health, all images exhibited are available for purchase with proceeds donated to our charity partner OCD UK. Please visit www.tictail.com/thephotographymovement to process your order and we thank you for your generosity.

The Photography Movement thanks our exhibition sponsor Canon and Camden Town Brewery for supporting our preview night.

When you type ‘depression stock photos’ into Google image search, the results are horrifying. It’s a 50/50 split of mostly white, mostly male models with their heads in their hands or a gun to their head. When you’re among the one in four suffering with a mental health problem, an article illustrated by a photo like this is demoralising.

While it’s brilliant that the conversation around mental health has really opened up in the media in the last few years, visually, it’s still disappointing to see such limited imagery out there on major platforms, making depression look like a headache.

In 2018, we set up an anonymous survey with the aim of getting to the root of how mental health disorders actually feel, asking sufferers in our audience to respond with words and phrases so we could work these into visual representation. The results were astounding. “[Depression] feels like I can barely keep my head above water”, “[OCD] like there’s someone in your head just feeding you lies”, “[Depression] foggy, like you’re behind a thick pane of glass watching everyone else live life”, “[Stress] feels like loads of brightly coloured squiggles intersecting with each other, too much going on.”

Working alongside photographer Flora Maclean, who shares our passion for visually representing mental health disorders with sensitivity and respect, we translated these words and phrases into visual concepts. We hope the resulting series of images, displayed here, make some of the more complex feelings of the mind tangible. We hope they encourage empathy and understanding.

Anna Jay, Art Director, Refinery29

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