DIY: creativity and coping | Mental Health Zine Library

As strange things? Collective, we are often talking about the relationship between mental health and making art. It's why we wanted to start our collection of mental health zines, to encourage that creativity and share these stories with the people that would benefit from hearing them most.

A blue acrylic pin that says "making stuff is self care".
One of our pins from the MHZL shop.

This Creativity and Wellbeing Week we've talked to some creative people (who both have work in our catalogue) about how art and creative writing has kept people well.

It's something we wrote about last year for Sunderland Culture, how creativity is shaping Sunderland's mental health services, and as I say in the article, creative writing has been more beneficial for me than most mental health services (which I think is both testament to how powerful art can be, and also how underfunded and inaccessible most services are).

Almudena Rocca is an multidisciplinary artist and mental health advocate. Follow her on Instagram here.

"When I was at University I worked with an organization called Project Ability. Project Ability is a space where people either living with mental ill health or disabilities come and create art, whether that be through workshops or creating art on their own. During my time there I saw the importance of art and creativity and how much of a positive impact it has on people’s mental well being. Through this it has ignited my passion for raising awareness around mental ill health and using art to help with that. Creativity can come in so many forms, from cooking to sewing, it all has a element of art and they are all things that we find therapeutic."

Jennie Louise is a writer and poet who self-published her first poetry collection in 2020. Visit her website to find out more!

"I have always been a really creative person. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been writing stories and creating my own art. As I grew older and started struggling with my mental health, I experimented with poetry as a form of self-expression. I had severe depression and felt like I couldn’t talk to anybody about it, so I turned to the only thing I understood: writing.

I find writing cathartic because it helps me make sense of what goes on inside my head. Opening up about mental health is really difficult, so sometimes the easiest way is to write it down. For me, when thoughts and feelings are building up, the best way to release and understand them is on paper. That’s why I write poetry.

For years I kept my words a secret, too scared to share with anyone what I thought. It was only a couple of years ago that I started showing my family and friends, which helped me realise that I’m not alone and there are other people that understand what I’m going through. I gained enough confidence over time to write and publish my debut poetry collection, All The Things I Never Said, which focuses on mental illness as a strong theme.

Being creative, in any form, is so important. There’s so much you can do to express yourself. If you don’t feel like you can talk to someone, sharing your art with them is one way to start that dialogue about mental health. Or just sharing your work generally, on social media or through zines. Because guaranteed, you won’t be the only person that has felt or is feeling that way. You’ll realise that you are not alone and never were to begin with."

The Mental Health Zine Library is ran by strange things? Collective, which was formed in partnership with the Young People's Project at Washington Mind. If you want to find out more about what creative stuff we do in our community and how you can get involved, get in touch.