One of the greatest battles regarding mental illness is the stigma attached to it, yet society cannot dismiss how prevalent mental illness has become. In Canada, one-in-five Canadians suffer and there is a higher percentage in the United States. By 2025, it is predicted as Baby Boomers reach seniority, a significant number will suffer from a form of dementia. Society isn’t prepared for this endemic.        

My fellow photographer, Richard Desmarais, and I attempted to generate public awareness about mental illness through a YouTube video of photographic images entitled, Troubled Minds. We didn’t want to be derivative in our approach and use cliché metaphors or spokespeople. We wanted to reflect the typical public perception of mental illness and question it: Imagine being unplugged from reality.           

Though psychiatric institutions thought the video gave a negative impression, the public reaction was completely opposite, voicing how empathetic and intuitive it was in expressing depression, bipolar disorder, post-secondary traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder.  The images caught the eye of the editor of Heavy Metal magazine who published them for their uniqueness.