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artwork with demons flying harassing a man

How we’re celebrating mental health resilience through art

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 43% of Australians aged 16-85 have experienced a mental illness in their lifetime. Despite this high prevalence, mental illness remains heavily stigmatised.  

At Feros Care, we believe in the power of storytelling to break stigmas and nurture understanding. Our recent Mental Illness Resilience Project Art Competition aimed to smash these stigmas by sharing and honouring stories through the expressive medium of art. 

The competition drew a diverse range of participants, each with a unique journey and perspective. Their artworks, ranging from dark and sombre to hopeful and triumphant, provide a window into their experiences.  

Here are some of the powerful, real stories of people who navigate the challenges of mental illness every day. 

“Free Your Mind” by Linda Chapman

The competition winner, Linda Chapman, 61, has lived with Complex PTSD and Dissociative Disorder for over a decade. Her artwork, “Free Your Mind,” uses contemporary fluid art to express her fragmented reality and journey towards resilience.  

“The cage is where my trauma selves reside,” Linda explains. “Some of them see through the bars to their possible potential and are dissolving the restrictions. Meanwhile, the cogs of the mind keep resiliently turning.”  

Piece of art of black bird cage, pink flowers and black cogs

Despite the ongoing challenges of her condition, Linda has found comfort and expression through her art, demonstrating the power of creativity in mental health recovery. 

The competition received over 100 entries, which were carefully evaluated to create a shortlist of 12 remarkable submissions. Linda’s artwork, coupled with her powerful story of struggles, resilience, and hope, captivated the judging panel. She won a $1,000.00 Visa Gift Card, and her artwork will be featured on merchandise that will help break the stigma around mental illness. 

“Little Worries” by Lana

Lana’s artwork, “Little Worries,” depicts the hidden struggles of living with generalised anxiety disorder. She uses the imagery of birds to symbolise the numerous anxieties that accumulate and become overwhelming.  

“Even though on the surface I appear relaxed, underneath each bird represents a little worry about something in life,” she shares.  

This piece reflects the constant mental noise that many with anxiety disorders experience, highlighting the importance of understanding and empathy in supporting those with such health conditions. 

Sketch of woman on green lounge surrounded by annoying birds

“Abandoned: Who Will Love the Broken Things?” by Troy

Troy’s fourth ever sketch, titled “Abandoned: Who Will Love the Broken Things?” poignantly captures the often overlooked struggle of living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In his own words, Troy reflects,  

“I sometimes feel like I’m a difficult person to love: afflicted with OCD, I am high maintenance. Who’d want to spend their time with me?”  

This artwork challenges the perception of being “broken” by highlighting the mutual support found within the community and the access to professional services. Troy’s piece is a powerful reminder that everyone has imperfections, and these very imperfections are what make us unique and interesting. His message is clear – we are all “broken” in some way, and it’s our shared humanity that binds us together. 

Coal artwork of tree fallen down, leafless, rocking chair.

“Weeping Mother” by Sonia

Sonia’s piece, “Weeping Mother,” delves into the intersection of mental health and motherhood. Through her depiction of a hooded figure wearing a textile apron adorned with knitted breasts, she explores her own and her mother’s battles with depression.  

“It captures the multifaceted nature of maternal sorrow and the societal pressure to conceal such emotions,” Sonia explains.  

 Her art is a raw and honest portrayal of the complexities of mental health, breaking the silence around maternal mental health struggles. 

woman dressed in black sitting on chair crocheting, faceless

“Behind the Smile” by Robyn

Robyn’s photograph, “Behind the Smile,” tells the story of her son’s journey with mental illness. Diagnosed at 19, her son’s battle with psychosis was heart-wrenching to witness.  

“When he finally had treatment and was becoming the son I knew, it was a joyous moment,” Robyn recalls.  

 The photograph captures his smile, a symbol of resilience and hope.  

“We really don’t know what is behind the smile,” she admits, expressing the ongoing challenges and the strength required to face them. 

Youn man, two faces, smiling, greenery background

“All the Noise” by Leah Baker Dryden

Leah Baker Dryden’s journey with bipolar II is poignantly captured in her artwork, “All the Noise.” Experiencing anxiety and depression since childhood, Leah finds comfort in visual art.  

“Expressing myself through visual art has been a saviour on many occasions,” she says.  

Her piece represents the constant noise and internal struggle of living with bipolar disorder, while also highlighting the support and hope that help her navigate her mental health journey. 

Pretty pastel Artwork of woman head in birdcage with flowers and bird.

Continuing the journey

The Mental Illness Resilience Project is an ongoing effort to recognise and share these stories, breaking down the stigmas surrounding mental health illness. Each piece of art in this competition reflects the personal journey of resilience and strength of the artists. By sharing their stories, we hope to raise awareness, understanding and support for those living with mental ill health. 

 We invite you to follow Feros Care on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn to stay updated on our ongoing efforts and related activities. Our support of those facing mental health challenges is strong and unwavering and we’re ready to stand with you 


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