Roy Lilley 1in4 exhibitionA forthcoming art exhibition in Bradford is aiming to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage people to talk openly about mental health issues.

The 1in4 art exhibition is being held by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust at gallery 2 at Salts Mill in Saltaire. It will run from 6 – 10 October and showcase innovative and thought-provoking artwork created by people who have experience of mental health issues – and will promote the benefit of art in promoting good mental health.

The final day of the exhibition will take place on World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme covers ‘psychological first aid’, which aims to increase awareness of basic mental health first aid so every member of the public can help people with mental health problems in the same way as in a physical ill-health. 

Roy Lilley, artist, national health writer and broadcaster has spoken openly about his own mental health problems and will feature digital art work as part of the exhibition alongside health professional and photographer Terri Porrett, whose mother had dementia. Both artists share a mutual interest in experimenting with modern media and recognise the importance of art in mental wellbeing.  

In a bid to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health illness, a film featuring people sharing their own stories of mental health will also be showcased during the exhibition. In it, David Spencer, 70, who cared for his late wife Lynda, who experienced depression for 28 years, talks about his own experience of mental health as a carer and the impact on his family. Also, 38-year-old Nick Smith had his first suicidal thought at the age of 9 but now helps to support vulnerable people that have suffered emotionally or experienced a mental health crisis through his peer support group. Kate Wilson, 24, suffered from chronic fatigue, which left her bedbound for three years at the age of 13, but now she helps young people overcome mental ill-health through her work with Barnardo’s. Finally, 50-year-old Jannine Hodgson was outgoing before losing her confidence following health issues; Jannine credits talking about how she felt to contributing to her recovery and now supports other people regain wellness in mental health.  

Paul Hogg, Trust Secretary at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and project lead for the exhibition, said: “As the local provider of mental health services, we are always looking at new ways to tackle stigma. The numbers and quality of artwork has been so impressive but it is also the personal stories associated with how people use art as a wellbeing tool that will interest people.  We hope that everyone who visits Salts Mill will think about art and mental health long after World Mental Health Day itself.”

Encouraging people to contribute to the goal of taking mental health out of the shadows, visitors to the exhibition will be invited to take part in interactive artwork – the ‘big draw’. The artwork will comprise individual head and shoulder silhouettes filled with pictures, words and images that represent people’s association of what mental health wellbeing means to them. The community mural will continue to grow and evolve to form a growing ‘population’ throughout the course of the exhibition.