Let's Talk #3

a conversation with former MAP intern Eleanor Szendrey, is relevant in ways that we could have never imagined when we started in 2019. Eleanor spoke passionately about the public’s lack of knowledge and the many misunderstandings around the range of mental health issues and disorders, which they (Eleanor uses gender neutral pronouns to refer to themself) often experienced firsthand as an autistic person. As we were going to print, the pandemic brought everything to a halt. Now, months later, COVID burnout is impacting people around the world. There is the fear of getting the virus and of loved ones getting the virus. There are tensions around physical distancing and mask wearing. Economic uncertainty and the instability of leadership has many people reeling. Isolated from families and friends because of vulnerability to the virus, many of our elders and others are feeling anxious and lonely. And then there is the heart breaking experience of losing a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor during and to the pandemic. Our limited ability to gather together prevents our active and communal care for ourselves and each other.

The New York Times reported that a national study published in JAMA Network Open, of more than 1,500 Americans, showed that alcohol use is up among adults, especially among non-Hispanic white people, women, and those between ages 30 and 59.1 And, people with underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, and previous substance use disorder, have an increased risk of severe anxiety, debilitating depression, substance use relapse, and thoughts of suicide.2 Now, more than ever, it is essential for society to better understand the experiences of people with mental health illnesses and for culturally responsive policy to be implemented that addresses mental health concerns without stigma. MAP believes that if we create space and opportunities for people addressing mental health in their work, we can widen our understanding of mental health illnesses. Thus, the artists and writers who have contributed content to this zine have experienced mental health illness themselves or with a family member.

We imagine that as we design better mental health into our cities, villages and towns, publications like this one will not be unusual and policy that supports mental health will become more common. In the wake of COVID-19, one of the positive results of our common duress could indeed be a wider understanding of mental illnesses, which contributes to mental health wellness throughout society and culture."

from the introduction, Let's Talk #3
Janeil Engelstad

Image: Let's Talk #3 cover art by Elvin Flamingo