By Michelle Silver
Mental health disorders are far too common today. Their lifetime prevalence among children under 18 is 46.7% for any mental illness, 21.4% of whom suffer with severe, debilitating disorders that affect life activities. The most common mental disorders for children under 15 are ADHD, mood disorders, and major depression, however, these disorders as well as many others affect roughly 43.7 million adults over the age of 18. Mental illness can leave people confused, lost, and helpless.
In the modern era of technology, a new way to cope with mental illness has emerged. It involves using photography as an escape from the everyday struggles with different mental diagnoses. The Broken Light Collective is an online photo gallery started by a young woman with depression that displays pictures taken but people from all over the world affected by mental illness. The goal of the gallery is to inspire each other, let people know you are never alone, and provide a positive distraction for the tough times. Many people that contribute to the gallery have found the act of photography to be therapeutic and instantly rewarding. Anybody with a mental illness or who helps people with a mental illness is welcome to contribute, regardless of skill level.
This isn’t the first time people have turned to photography to give people a sense of hope for the future. Photovoice is a hands-on photography method where people are sent into their community with a camera. After photos are taken, short narratives are added to each photo, followed by discussion. Photovoice helps participants gain a better understanding of their community and provide a sense of hope for the future. Photovoice is often used in underprivileged communities in order to help empower people to make a change.