Beneath the Surface - A Mental Health & Photography Project

A personal campaign sponsored by Annie Griswold

October 10, 2017

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I'm Annie Griswold, owner of Annie G. Photography.

In honor of the recent Suicide Prevention Week, and the upcoming World Mental Health Day (on Oct. 10th), I have felt inspired and led to begin a photography project, which I have named 'Beneath the Surface'. 

Mental Health issues are a very prominent struggle with a large majority of people in this world, yet hardly discussed or talked about. There is a certain stigma, and shame, that comes along with admitting that you have a mental health struggle. I believe that needs to stop! I support everyone being able to openly discuss, admit, and talk about their own personal diagnoses, and mental health struggles - without any of the stigma, and negative harsh judgement, as well as sometimes the discrimination, that is currently attached to it.

I, personally, struggle with multiple mental health issues that affect every single day of my life. I have family members and friends who also struggle with mental health issues on a daily basis. My entire life, I've seen it and felt it firsthand... mental health issues aren't talked about. If they are, there has always been some sort of shame that comes along with admitting that you struggle with your mental health!

I'm here to say that this needs to stop! Please, read the statistics below, and see for yourself that this is a more common thing, than many people may realize. The stigma needs to end. The discussions and dialogue needs to begin. Let's judge & assume less, and talk & support more.

Here are some statistics about Mental Health: 

450 MILLION people worldwide, have a mental health problem. (That is more than 1 in every 16 people).

Depression is the leading cause of disability world-wide, and will be the single biggest medical burden on healthcare by the year 2020.

Every YEAR, more than 800,000 people die from suicide. (That's 1 death every 40 seconds!)

Only 25% of adults with mental health symptoms believe that others are caring and sympathetic to persons with mental 'illness'. 

Up to 70% of medical visits stem from mental health problems, or substance abuse.

67% of primary care physicians are unable to refer patients to high-quality mental health specialists.

1 in every 5 adults has a mental health condition! That is over 40 MILLION Americans! That is more than the populations of New York and Florida combined. 

There is a rise in mental health conditions in our Youth. In 2011, 8.5% of youth had a mental health condition. In 2014, it had risen up to 11.1% already. Sadly, even with SEVERE depression, 80% of them, are left with no or insufficient treatment. 

Most American's lack access to treatment/care. 56% of American adults with a mental 'illness' DID NOT receive treatment that they needed. Even in Vermont, which is the state with the BEST mental healthcare access, still 43% of adults there DID NOT receive treatment that they needed.

There is a serious Mental Health Workforce shortage. In states with the lowest workforce, there's only ONE mental health professional per 1,000 individuals (which includes: psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses COMBINED!)

The states that had the LEAST access to mental health care and the HIGHEST rates of imprisonment were: Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. 

10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years old) have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems, have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

There is, on average, a 10-year delay, between young people experiencing their first mental health symptoms and receiving help.

8 out of 100 teens report having serious depression. (That's 2 out of every 25 teens!)

35% of teenage girls have an eating disorder. (That's 7 out of every 25 teen girls!)

10% of all teens suffering from an eating disorder are MALE.

Only one quarter of people with mental health problems seek treatment.

17 in every 100 people will have suicidal thoughts.

1.1% (about 2.6 million) American adults live with Schizophrenia. 

6.7% (about 15.7 million) American adults are affected by Major Depressive Disorder.

2.6% (about 6.1 million) American adults are affected by Bipolar disorder each year.

4.1% (about 9.6 million) American adults have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). 


As I am beginning this project, I am looking for people (local in and around the Springfield area) who would like to volunteer to participate in this project alongside me. 

I need people who struggle with mental health issues, and who would like to help me with this project by doing a *free* photography portrait session with me (end of September - beginning of October). I will be choosing a couple of upcoming days (prior to Oct. 10th; and posted on my 'Beneath the Surface' event on Facebook) and will be having photo sessions with those interesting and who would like to participate. 

I will be photographing the participants, and then as a huge 'Thank you' to them, they will receive a minimum of two portraits (via email, with the email address they provide me). 

My idea and vision is that not only will mental health be supported with the idea that people are not their mental health struggles, but that people can, do, and will continue to overcome their struggles. I am trying to spread the word about this, so we can raise donations for the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation prior to (and leading up to) World Mental Health Day, coming up on Tuesday, October 10th. 

I am trying to end the stigma that is associated with mental health issues, in that they are more common than people realize - and that is partially because people haven't yet felt comfortable enough to just simply talk and discuss mental health issues and struggles. I am in high hopes that this photography project will be visual example, and a start (or continuation for some...) in creating that necessary dialogue and conversation about mental health struggles, that NEEDS to be there. 

I want people to feel comfortable being able to more openly talk about their struggles. No one should have to face them alone! 

Donations welcomed and accepted! 50-100% of donations will go to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation! You can pay the foundation directly here, or if you are local to me, you can also give the money to me - as well!

Here is some information about the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation:

  • Since 1987, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded more than $365 million to fund more than 5,000 grants to more than 4,000 scientists around the world.

  • The mission of the Foundation is to alleviate the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research.

  • 100% of donations for research are invested directly into research grants thanks to the generosity of two family foundations that underwrite operational expenses at the Foundation.

  • The funding model of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation encourages new and innovative research in that we are able to support new ideas from bottom up generated by scientists.

  • The Foundation only funds scientists whose research is reviewed and recommended by a world-renowned Scientific Council including Nobel Prize winners and chairs of psychiatric departments.

  • Learn more about the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.


Thank you for your time, your efforts, your donations, and your support! Together - let's end the stigma about mental health issues. Let's make sure it is COMFORTABLE for people to openly talk about their mental health issues, and any problems they are facing, or feelings they are feeling.

No more hiding behind closed doors. Let's start supporting and talking!

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