You must be mental
Victoria Aitchison is an outspoken, fun loving fashion journalism student. When choosing a ‘Final Major Project’ at uni, however, Victoria didn’t chose a usual ‘envogue’ topic, instead she has focused on the not quite so fashionable subject of mental health. A project she's entitled 'You must be mental'.
We catch up with Victoria to discuss why this is so close to her heart and how she is planning to tackle the stigmatized subject and bring it to the attention of the fashionable and party loving world she is a part of.
When Victoria was 21 she suffered what she calls a ‘mental breakdown’. And whilst she was determined to go to university at the time of her illness she was advised to think long and hard about it.
‘I always told myself I would go back to university and I was adamant I wouldn't let my illness beat me’ She recalls.
Victoria thankfully recovered and is enjoying life as a fashion student, but what she learned from her experience has stayed with her. ‘Whilst in treatment I learnt so much about mental health and was fascinated by those I met with similar problems, I wanted to help.’
While there are many difficulties facing her peers; with adolescent girls and young women in fashion being at high risk of eating disorders, body image issues, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse and other mental health problems, there is still a taboo surrounding these issues.
Victoria explains ‘It isn't just a case of a lack of information it's who the information is aimed at. The industry I'm in is tough at the best of times and being somebody who is, I dunno, in that 'hipster' community, surrounded by 24hour party people I feel it important to speak up.’
At the project’s heart is the desire to get people to ‘speak about, not shy away from [the topic of mental health]’. She ‘will be creating a portfolio of work full of articles aimed at those magazines which usually turn a blind eye to the subject.’
And I’m very proud to say that Victoria has used our very own Uncovered Magazine within her project. ‘I think what people and magazines like you do is fantastic’. But as we all agree the mass media at large is still far from perfectly representing mental health or indeed mental illness.
‘We need to make other magazines etc.. consider the subject of importance.’
Well I couldn’t agree more, so if you would like to know more about the project you can follow @YouMustBeMental on twitter, or visit Victoria’s blog http://www.agirlplayingdressup.com/ a website about the project will be available from April.