Powerful poster campaign launched to encourage mental health discussions

Behind the Mask by Maisie Jones

Behind the Mask by Maisie Jones, which is being used as a poster to encourage conversations around mental health - Credit: Maisie Jones

A striking poster campaign by a Kesgrave sixth form graduate and councillors is being launched to encourage people to talk about their mental health.

The powerful self-portrait poster was created by 18-year-old Maisie Jones, who used extracts from her journal as a teenager struggling with anxiety and depression as tears running down her face.

The moving picture, called Behind the Mask, will now form the central image of a campaign funded from the locality budget of East Suffolk councillor for Kesgrave Debbie McCallum and supported by Kesgrave Town Council, encouraging people to talk about their mental health.

Behind the Mask by Maisie Jones

Behind the Mask by Maisie Jones, which is being used as a poster to encourage conversations around mental health. - Credit: Maisie Jones

In particular, it hopes to start a conversation to help people consider the impacts the Covid-19 crisis may have had on their own wellbeing, and understand support is available.

"When I was 12 I was diagnosed with anxiety, and that had come from watching a loved one become quite ill and eventually pass away," Maisie said. 

"Just from the anxiety and struggles of school I spiralled downhill and ended up being diagnosed with depression at 15, which was difficult but I am out of the thick of it now. 

"I struggled in silence for so long, so that when things got so bad I didn’t know where to turn to. I think this poster will definitely grab people’s attention and make them realise there is somewhere they can go, even if they don’t want to speak to someone they know about it."

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In the tears on the poster, Maisie recounts the pain and loneliness she felt, the lack of energy and the feeling of every child deserving to be loved, adding: "I was begging for them to let me go. It's like I am living in someone else's body and looking through their eyes. It's like you're screaming and nobody can hear."

While the poster will be rolled out in Kesgrave, Rushmere St Andrew and Martlesham initially, there are hopes it will be used more widely across East Suffolk and countywide to help aid discussions around mental health.

Debbie McCallum said it was important to keep children occupied during the holidays Picture: COLIN S

Debbie McCallum, East Suffolk councillor for Kesgrave has used her locality budget for the campaign - Credit: Archant

Mrs McCallum said: "We would like parents and friends to use this picture as a talking point – discuss with your children what you think of this, do you feel any of that? If we can sustain one life or a few people the job will all have been worthwhile. 

"Coming out of Covid, I think huge sections out there if they didn’t already suffer mental health for the first time in their lives they may have suffered from some sort of mental health, be it isolation, relationships have broken up, increased domestic violence.

"This isn’t just a picture, it’s Maisie's story and her journey. It’s a very brave message, and I know Maisie wants to help people and I think this is a very powerful message."

For those in need of mental health support, contact CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) on 0800 585858, Wellbeing Suffolk on 0800 123 1503, NHS First Response on 0800 196 3494 or the Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 977 5690.