HeadSpace is a creative magazine based on mental health which is distributed for free in psychiatric wards and mental health support services. Issue 2 is being launched on Friday, 17 January in Sweeneys Bar, Dame Street, Dublin 2.
It’s hard to believe I’m writing the editorial for the second issue of HeadSpace. When we first met up, a nervous group of enthusiastic but overwhelmed young people, to discuss the idea of making a creative mental health magazine and giving it to wards and support centres for free, we knew this project was too big for us. I don’t think any of us dared hope that HeadSpace really would come to life, but the idea, once formed, was too important to be abandoned.
We set up HeadSpace to address a number of issues. We all need an escape from our stressful lives sometimes, to listen to music, read a book, watch a film or look at some art, and forget about where we are. Anyone who has had to spend time in hospital, whether for mental or physical recovery, will know that they can be at once both stressful and extremely boring, and this strange mix of anxiety and boredom can be detrimental rather than helpful to your recovery. Providing reading material to in-patient wards and support centres could, we felt, diminish the stress experienced by patients and aid their recovery, as well as take from the isolating nature of illness. While the support of family and friends is invaluable, but sometimes you really need to hear from somebody who has lived what you are living now, to know that you are not alone in what you’re experiencing.
It’s becoming much more acceptable to talk about mental health than it has been, but it’s still a hard conversation to start. Through writing and art we can often express and communicate experiences too painful or potentially awkward to discuss more directly, and creative arts have always served as a way to start conversations and to bring understanding.
We launched our first issue in May 2013 as a small-scale pilot. We distributed most of our copies for free, in hospitals in Dublin, Laois, Wicklow, and Wexford, and to the nationwide Jigsaw Project which runs centres to promote positive mental health in young people.
Issue 2 is proudly supported by the Rehab Group’s Visual and Performing Arts Fund. Special thanks must go to Sonya Felton of Rehab Ireland for her support and advice for this project, and I would like to extend a personal thanks to Lisa Burke and Ciara O’Rourke, for all their help in making this second issue happen. I’ve never been able to articulate how proud I am to be part of HeadSpace, but I hope that when you see all the talent inside these covers you will be as excited as we are about how this project continues to grow.
I was asked in an interview how I’d define success for HeadSpace, and I stand over what I said then – that if this magazine helps even one person come through a difficult time, that is success beyond measure.