home / Wellness
Art Therapy: 7 Artists Who Are Illustrating The Struggles Of Living With A Mental Illness

Art Therapy: 7 Artists Who Are Illustrating The Struggles Of Living With A Mental Illness

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s shocking death to suicide has initiated a long-delayed conversation on mental health in India. People are finally grasping the idea that mental illnesses need to be taken as seriously as physical ailments and when ignored, they can easily escalate into something damaging and even life-threatening. Not only has it nudged individuals to take cognisance of their own mental health and triggers but has also sparked a bigger, deeper probe on how equipped we happen to be when it comes to fighting the mental health crisis that the country looks at right now. 

The findings of the National Mental Health Survey of India, 2015-16 reveals that while nearly 150 million Indians needed active intervention when it comes to their mental health fewer than 30 million were getting it. Add to it the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and you’d know that the mental health crisis in the country needs immediate attention. A recent study posits that “During the initial stages of COVID-19 in India, almost one-third of respondents had a significant psychological impact.” 

Clearly, words like “anxiety,” “OCD,” and “depression” shouldn’t be taken as lightly as they are in our country for when left unattended, they take over your very being and even claim lives. Several artists and illustrators are doing the work for us by illustrating the struggles of mental health and while also providing tools and ways of coping with them. 

Now that a conversation on mental health has finally seen its impetus in the country, it’s high time we educate ourselves as well as those around us about mental health to be more equipped with a mitigation and support system whenever the need arises. We have compiled a list of artists who seek to create awareness about mental health through their art. Scroll through.

Phil Wall

By illustrating mental illnesses as huge, haunting monsters, Phil makes a very important point in how so many fall helpless when faced by a mental health issue or illness. It is important for this message to resonate since so many around us frequently brush aside problems like anxiety, depression, etc. as trivial issues. Here are some of his illustrations for a perspective: 

Reshma Valliappan

“The voices inside my head asked me to paint,” says Reshma Valliappan, the artist who has been channelising her schizophrenia into profound art. She gives you a sneak peek into what happens inside schizophrenic’s mind and how haunting some of these images actually happen to be. In fact, her paintings are often used in therapist conferences to show what someone with schizophrenia goes through. Take a look at her artwork:


From therapy sessions to everyday struggles, Laman captures how mental health disorders manifest themselves in modern lives. The illustrations are especially relatable for someone having a first-hand experience with poor mental health. Here are the illustrations:


Swedish artist Matilda of Crazy Head Comics describes herself as a lightworker on her journey to recovery. Her Instagram feed is a beautiful pastiche of powerful messages, relatable illustrations, and her personal experiences with mental health disorders. Take a look:

View this post on Instagram

i haven’t been active here lately because i am so exhausted by this whole covid-19 thing. i have talked about my health anxiety before, and it’s not been good lately. where i live in sweden, only about a handful of people (at least at this time) have died, yet people are panic buying canned food and toilet paper to the point of it being constantly sold out in stores. i don’t keep up with news because it is a major trigger of my generalized anxiety disorder, but there’s no avoiding hearing about corona everywhere, constantly. the climate of society has changed a lot in so little time and i’m having trouble knowing how to act or feel anymore. i made this lil illustration based on the reactions i have felt and seen around me. at the moment, i’m kinda flopping in between anger and hope. i’m angry at some news providers for sensationalizing this so much, i am angry at the healthcare systems around the world, i’m angry at all the conspiracy theorists who are having a field day with this virus, i am angry at everyone who is acting like the apocalypse is happening and buy up all the fucking toilet paper ??? i don’t know what’s real information and what’s speculation anymore. this situation is less than ideal yet i feel like the reaction is spiraling out of control. i’m not scared for myself but i’m scared for my loved ones who are ill or have weak immune systems. i feel like so far, the impact of this virus can be seen the most in the mental health of all of us. everybody’s on edge, and it’s hard to shake it off. but i’m feeling more and more hopeful everyday, i am dedicated to making the most out of everyday. i’m not reading the news anymore because it does my head in. i am coping with humor, (memes have been a surprisingly good pick me up) a healthy dose of “fuck it”, and lots of drawing and painting. panic isn’t the answer, we all need a collective deep breath and a little bit more hope. call me naive, but i have a lot of faith in humanity. we got this. how are you feeling, despite it all ? what stage of corona virus anxiety have you reached ? #corona #covid_19 #mentalhealth #anxiety

A post shared by ᴍᴀᴛɪʟᴅᴀ (@crazyheadcomics) on Mar 16, 2020 at 10:42am PDT

Pranita Kocharekar

Pranita Kocharekar’s Insta feed is for the ones’ seeking some positivity and useful tools to cope with their mental health on a day to day basis. A well-renowned Indian artist, she frequently posts illustrations to help and ease those suffering from mental health issues. Here are a few of her illustrations:


Indian artists Sonaksha’s illustrations are aimed at educating her followers about mental health struggles and also to help them recognise and face them in a better and healthier way. Check out her artwork:

View this post on Instagram

Seems simple right? And yet we all struggle with it. We don't want to bother people. We don't want to feel like a burden. We feel like we're occupying too much space. This is something I'm still grappling with. I'm incredibly uncomfortable asking for help, so this is really hard to do. But I'm trying. I need your help for a project I'm working on. (Phew, said it) I'm working on compiling experiences of mental health as a way to give back to the community. I've put together a few questions to get started on this journey and I'd reaaaaaally appreciate your help. Who can answer this? Everyone. You don't have to have a mental illness, but if you do, you can bring your experience of living with it in as well. Mental health is for and about everyone so I want to hear all your experiences if you'd like to share. The form is linked in my stories and in my bio. Please also share it with your internet buddies, friends and family and basically anyone. If you don't like forms, email me and I'd love to speak with you. I want to hear from all of you. ♥️ Hugs and thank you for hearing me out. I really need your help to make this possible. bit.ly/sonakshaneedshelp Excited to share more of this as it develops, with you.

A post shared by Sonaksha (@sonaksha) on Nov 4, 2019 at 7:39am PST

It is very important to realise that there should be no shame in identifying your mental health struggles and seeking professional help to cope with them. Remember, it’s okay to be not okay!

Featured Image: Instagram

18 Jun 2020

Read More

read more articles like this
good points logo

good points text