"Be Kind to Yizzer Mind" Exhibition at St. Patick's Hospital
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Truth be told, I feel incredibly overwhelmed talking about such a weighty topic to a bunch of strangers on the internet. I’m completely under-qualified and it’s really not something I’d want to do and get wrong. And I’m ashamed to say, I feel hesitant to delve into any discussion surrounding personal experience with mental health. I have so much respect for those who do and am so grateful for the young Irish voices speaking up. I’m a bit of a coward, I guess. Considering how supportive I am about lifting the stigma of mental health, this makes me feel like a massive hypocrite.
To gloss over quite a bit, I’ve come to value the importance of good mental health. I’ve also discovered that even bad mental health is often temporary and, in many cases, is easier fixed than you might fear. There is help out there and whether it’s confiding in a friend, speaking to a trained counsellor or talking to your doctor about the possibility of using medication, I ask that if you need to, you do it. There are also an incredible selection of Irish mental health helplines that offer help for those suffering with anxiety and depression to eating disorders and sexual and domestic abuse.
Last summer, I heard about an art exhibition in St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services. It was created by Damn Fine Print who collaborated with a group of Irish artists and lovingly titled “Be Kind to Yizzer Mind”. Living nearby, I decided to take a visit. It was my first time in the hospital and, honestly, I still feel emotional when I think of some of the patients I passed by in the hallways. I didn’t want anyone to feel exposed, so for their own sense of privacy, I kept my head down and tried not to make eye contact. But there was one girl I couldn’t help but seeing.
She was about ten years younger than me. Beautiful, well dressed and had a cool haircut. If I saw her on the street, I’d probably almost envy her. But that day she was hugging her dad goodbye at the entrance where I was loitering around awaiting directions. The look of desperation on her dad’s face broke my heart. Her perfectly-winged eyeliner became a blur as tears poured down her face. Part of me wanted to run over and hug her and promise her it’ll be okay. I still feel so sad about the fact that she obviously didn’t feel like it would be okay. I wonder about her now and how her recovery is going; if she’s there yet or if she needs more time?
That experience made me realise more than ever the importance of services like St. Pat’s. It made me want to support any fundraising efforts and thankful for those who use their skills to do so. Artists who did just that were Finbar 247, Shane O Malley, Will St. Leger, Vanessa Power from Signs of Power, Eimear Gavin, Neil Dune, Steve McCarthy, Dublin Hun creator Aoife Dooley and Kim Willoughby, Creative Director of Damn Fine Print. The artwork was displayed in the hallways of the hospital and acted as a pick-me-up to the service users, their families and the incredible St. Pat’s staff. Prints were then sold by Damn Fine Print with proceeds going to the hospital.
One of the artists who contributed work to the exhibition, Will St Leger, said “Some of these pieces on show today were actually inspired by meeting service users and staff this week, and have been created with the idea that we should all be aware that everyone has a persona, or a mask that they create for the public. Our emotions are not static, they move and change with every moment that passes, and art is a powerful way of expressing these moments.”
These images have sat on my phone for over a year. I knew I wanted to write about them, but could never quite figure out how. I still don’t feel like this has been the earth-shattering piece of writing the topic deserves, but it’s a start… I hope.
Video above by the wonderfully talented Kilig Productions.