#KnowYourCommunity is an ECBC campaign that hopes to raise awareness of groups/charities/organisations/people that help those living with a mental illness and empowering others.
ECBC spoke to Maria, a creative designer, about her organisation DeOSSO design and how she is trying to promote healthy mental health in and around Manchester.
Hola! I’m Maria, a creative designer behind deOSSO design. I’m a Spaniard based in Manchester, currently working as a designer in a marketing agency in town but also finishing my MA studies at MMU.
Mental health has always been an important part of my life. People around me and myself have suffered or are currently suffering from mental health and so, I’ve always felt the need to help them and me to improve their knowledge on mental health, raise awareness or just start a conversation.
However, it was only when I started my master’s studies last year in Manchester when I discovered design for health and wellbeing and all the work and projects around this topic. Since then, I decided to focus my MA in Graphic Design & Art Direction on social design and design for mental health, trying to help to erase stigma on mental health in our community.
As I mentioned before, mental health has always been key in my life and career. Within my family, few members suffer from mental health disorders but also myself, I have dealt with it since a very young age. Being a creative individual has helped me deal with different issues as design has been a way of communicating things I was going through. Emotions, feelings or anything around my own mental health that I was unable to express through other communication channels.
Design and art have been a tool for me to express whatever was in my mind, and it didn’t matter if that specific piece or drawing was not seen by other people, just the act of letting myself go using art as a tool was a relief. During the first year of my MA, I found myself into a low point of my life where anxiety has been an issue I needed to address again. My own design project has helped me to open up about this, to share my experiences with others and to experiment with different ways of showing empathy and engaging with myself and others.
Mental health services are key elements that help us to learn from ourselves, from whatever situation we are going through and to be a step into our wellbeing. There are indeed more and more services offering help and support to anyone going through a low moment or realising that they need help with their mental health but, unfortunately, these aren’t enough. I believe there is still a lot of work to do on this matter, as we need more empathy on these resources to make it easy for people to seek help.
We get scared and we struggle first to understand we need help to then, actually find this helpful. Therefore, the resources need to make it easy for people to open up and get the support they need, in a safe space with no judgement, only empathy and support.
To anyone suffering or concerned about their own mental health, don’t worry and speak up, there are great professionals out there, things might not be easy but it’ll worth it and you deserve the support.
Currently, I’m developing a series of workshops around typography and stigma on mental health, to start a conversation about the power of words and how to tweak and change meanings through art and design. This workshop plan is almost ready, being the next step to contact organisations and anyone interesting on me running it. The idea would be to collect all the feedback and information from these conversations and activities during the workshop to create a platform supporting people suffering from mental health or people close to anyone in this situation and send a positive message. Something like a Positive Mental Health Dictionary, or manual to help to erase stigma.
Moreover, along with another friend, also a designer, we are planning to create an event around this topic with different workshops, talks and activities where everyone can feel supported, listened and express themselves.
All my experiments and projects are posted in my design Instagram account. Currently, I am working on improving my online portfolio website so my Instagram account is the best place to contact me, follow my journey and share any thoughts. I would love to hear from anyone interesting in my project, to share their opinions, be part of the workshop or even supply with a space for me to run it. Anything it is, I would love to hear from you!
You can follow Maria on her Instagram and view her portfolio. All images used have been taken from Maria’s Instagram account and are her photos and designs.
Thank you to Maria for joining us on our #knowyourcommunity campaign.