An aspiring artist who struggled with depression through her time in education is inspiring young people to creatively express their experience with mental illness, after studying Art helped her overcome the condition.
Amy Mullen (19), from Cwmbran, South Wales, hopes to raise awareness of depression and ways to tackle it by creating a film based on her experiences.
Once complete, Amy hopes to take this film to young people in her area, particularly those who are experiencing high levels of stress while studying for their GCSEs or University qualifications.
“My depression started in my early teens, although it was not until I started college to study my A-Levels that it peaked under pressure,” she said. “At first, it seemed manageable, but then it just became too much.
“Despite help from the college counsellor, I could not continue with my courses, and I had to unfortunately leave the college.”
Amy's secondary school, Caldicot Comprehensive, heard what had happened, and knowing she was an excellent artist, offered her some support in achieving her A-Levels and a BTEC in Art and Design.
Soon Amy went back into education and learnt at her own pace, with continued help from counsellors.
It was while volunteering with young people at the school’s Special Educational Needs unit that she began to use her art to express her battle with depression.
“My art became a way out – a way to express and overcome how I was feeling. After a while, I became so involved in my art that I started to improve. It put life back into me and motivated me forward.
Amy completed her A-Levels and is now working within a college that offers opportunities to young people who find themselves in a similar situation to hers.
By the time she turned 19-years-old, she had worked her way out of her depression and off medication.
“It is so important to talk to someone about your mental health,” she said. “You have to make sure that it does not manifest into a mental health issue, and in my case I dealt with that problem by using art to express my thoughts and emotions.
“I hope I can encourage others in my position to overcome any problems they face in a variety of creative ways. Sometimes it can be hard to find the words to say about your feelings, and that is why I hope my film will show young people how finding creativity can help you express things you otherwise may not be able to describe.”