The cartoonists who aren’t afraid to talk about mental health matters

Even a short scroll through a social media feed can leave you feeling anxious, stressed and, at times, more than a little inadequate. Everyone’s life seems to be idyllic- with perfect children, a dreamy partner and the dream job.

Even if you don’t struggle with mental health, studies have shown that social media can trigger anxiety, depression loneliness, insomnia and ADHD. A 2018 study revealed a definitive link between social media and depression. The FOMO is real folks.

So what’s the answer? Do we avoid social media altogether? That can be tricky in this day and age, but perhaps we can make better choices about who we follow.

If you battle with your mental health, you can feel very alone, but you’re not. A new generation of cartoonists understand exactly how you feel.

In a recent article for BBC News entitled: “The cartoonists making mental health their muse”, writer Emily Oomen discusses “graphic medicine”.

She writes: “The genre focuses on and discusses topics within the medical field from cancer to Alzheimer’s and anorexia in an engaging and entertaining way. Although developed for patients and medical professionals as a way to explore different conditions, it is now often found in general stores and libraries.”

Artist Ellen Forney, who lives with bipolar, is one such artist. She designed a graphic memoir of her experience called Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me“.

She says: “I felt like I needed to do it for myself and to get it out there to reach other people – because I can, because I’m a storyteller, and I thought it was an important story to tell.

“It’s not just ‘here’s my experience, that was a mess’, but how do we put those pieces together? How do we come to heal?”

Two images showing the patient quizzing the doctor about whether they should take medications - the doctor explains what could happen if medications are not taken
©ELLEN FORNEY

“One of the things that’s really, really important, is a sense of humour,” Forney says. “It’s one of the ways to give yourself some sort of perspective when you’re telling a story.”

Gemma Correll agrees. “It can be good to laugh at yourself sometimes, especially when you feel really bad.”

©GEMMA CORRELL
Source: Instagram.

She adds that graphic medicine has helped her share her experience of anxiety and depression and she incorporates humour in a way that is relatable to many people.

Next time you feel down, visit these artists’ instagram feeds to remind yourself that you’re not alone.

Sources: BBC News, Parade