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Visible: How art has helped me express my mental health story

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For many young people, the transition to adulthood can be uncertain and overwhelming. Add to that a feeling of isolation and disconnection, and it’s no surprise this is the time where people are most likely to face mental health challenges. 

SANE Peer Ambassador Jess has recently co-designed a new project called Visible.

Visible is a creative collaboration between young Australians experiencing mental health challenges, and artists. These partnerships have produced an insightful collection of creative expressions that share the real experiences of mental health challenges faced by young people. The aim is to change how mental health is seen and spoken about across Australia, and create a culture that’s more accepting and understanding. 

Here's what Jess had to say about the project:

"My Visible expression tells the story of the long-term impacts of childhood trauma and adversity. More specifically, it tells the story of the events leading to my suicide attempt and how a chance encounter after the fact changed my life and the way I relate to my complex mental illness forever. 

By and large, the highlight of Visible for me has been working with my artist and collaborator, Anna. Anna and I are great buddies now and support each other's artistic endeavours and growth. I will always be grateful to Visible for bringing Anna's kind, and very authentic energy into my life. She told my story with such richness and consideration. I don't think I have ever felt more seen, heard or held by another person in my life. 

Visible has been an incredible journey over the last two years. And I have also been on an incredible personal journey in that time in terms of how I relate to myself and my experience of complex mental illness. Visible has allowed me to tell my story in new and innovative ways that have forced me to question how I tell my story formally but also the conversations I have with others and my internal dialogue.

I have moved away from defining myself in terms of diagnosis, something I used to hold very dear, to view myself just as 'Jess'. I have moved away from a model of complex mental illness to just viewing myself as complex. And I like that. Visible has been integral to this redefining of myself. And I don't think I had really put that together until the question was posed to me. 

The Visible website is filled with an amazingly diverse range of artistic expressions that really show the depth and breadth of young people's experienced with mental ill-health. It also shows the complex ways we relate to the world, our mental health, our identities, our cultures and our communities. And I honestly think our art may be the best way to really communicate the complexity of these stories. I am so proud to have been involved. Check it out, you won't regret it!"

Visible is an initiative from the Australian Youth Advocates for Mental Health (AYAMH), coordinated by headspace, and supported by a cross-sector group of Batyr, Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute, Butterfly Foundation, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Mind, Orygen, ReachOut and SANE. 

Discover the digital exhibition at and view Jess' artistic expression here.

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