In support of World Mental Health Day (10 October), we held an unveiling of a diverse range of masks created by young artists as part of our youth engagement project, The Different Faces of Mental Health.

In piloting our project, young people from three youth mental health services were given the opportunity to create masks symbolising their experience with mental health, and to speak up through a different medium.

Young people, carers, family members and service staff, including those who took part in the project, joined us in viewing our impressive display of close to 50 masks, and reading some of the powerful messages that the young people conveyed.

Commissioner Lynne Coulson Barr spoke of the important role that art can play in young people’s treatment and recovery, and how the project allowed the MHCC to engage young people in a different way.

‘The project allowed us to take a more creative approach to supporting young people in building positive relationships with mental health services, and raising awareness of our role and their right to speak up about their concerns,’ Commissioner Coulson Barr said.

‘It’s been such a positive and rewarding experience for the MHCC, and we thank the young people for the time and effort they invested, and for sharing their inspirational and moving stories with us,’ Commissioner Coulson Barr said.

MHCC Advisory Council member Christine Abdelmalek delivered an insightful presentation on the benefits of engaging young people in their recovery through art.

‘Art therapy allows us to project a face that is too hard to reveal. This is what youth participation is. This is what it looks like,’ Ms Abdelmalek said.

We are now conducting an evaluation of our pilot with the young people and service staff who took part, with a view to drawing on the outcomes to inform the delivery of the project in 2017.

Our wall of masks remains on display in our office foyer, creating ongoing awareness of what we aimed to achieve. We invite you to visit our display at 570 Bourke Street, and to visit us on Facebook to see a selection of the artwork and stories shared.

World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. An initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, the day is held on 10 October each year to raise awareness of mental health issues worldwide.

For more information about The Different Faces of Mental Health, contact the MHCC’s Senior Executive Operations Officer, Grant Fellowes, on T/ 03 9032 3330, on or at E/ Grant.Fellowes@mhcc.vic.gov.au.

‘There are always light times through the darkest hours - we just need to remember to turn on the light.’ – Artist, 2016

‘Mental health has no face, no colour and no name...sometimes you can't explain what's going on inside your head.’ – Artist, 2016