October 13, 2017

Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up - 13th October, 2017

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up - in recognition of World Mental Health Day which was on Wednesday 11 October, this week's post features a new project designed to put the spotlight on mental health every day of the year - One Day In My World by award-winning photojournalist and activist Robin Hammond.

Special feature:  
One Day In My World - Robin Hammond & Witness Change 

On the landing page of One Day In My World, a new project by Robin Hammond, his activist organisation Witness Change and Handicap International, is a sobering statistic:

"Mental health issues affect 1 out of every 4 of us. For people living in poverty or war-torn countries, without access to a range of support, the impact of the illness is amplified." 

Despite these statistics, globally mental health is underfunded and stigmatised, even more so in countries ravaged by war and in societies crippled by poverty.

In My World combines Hammond's signature portraiture with video, text and sound. It’s a powerful vehicle through which to communicate complex stories, and to hear voices that would not usually be heard. 

Hammond’s objective is to humanise the issue of mental health, break the silence and challenge the stigma. 

Rose Muju (right) and her 15yo daughter Viola Malig who developed mental health problems after contracting malaria (South Sudan). 

One of the most impressive features is that those pictured tell in their own words how they feel and what they are dealing with, which really places these stories on a human level and makes them more accessible and relatable. Being able to tell their own stories also brings dignity as well as hope.

Hammond visited four countries - Togo, Lebanon, Madagascar and South Sudan - for this first instalment of One Day In My World, which is an ongoing project. The website invites visitors to "explore the stories of real people facing mental health challenges. See how they live, her their voices, visit In My World."

Sectioned into chapters - Faith, Suffocation, Isolation and Left Behind - each features powerful black and white photography, information on the situation in each particular country, individual tales, moving image and music.

Images and stories are not just of those suffering from mental health issues, but also carers and healthcare workers. There are also documentary photographs of the environments in which people live and the conditions that contribute to the decline in mental health and wellbeing, delivering deeper insights.

In Faith are stories from the impoverished country of Togo, where more than 80 percent of the population live in abject poverty.

Suffocation takes the reader into the claustrophobic environs of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon where children have little opportunity to just be kids, and the oppression of an uncertain future crushes the spirit.

Isolation features stories of those incarcerated in Madagascar where opportunities for a fair hearing are virtually non-existent and children are housed with adults in overcrowded conditions where those with mental health issues are at grave risk.

And Left Behind tells stories of those living with mental health issues in conflict-ravaged South Sudan where are are few services or support mechanisms available. 

There is also the opportunity to add your voice to the conversation on the Take Action page which invites those with mental health issues to share their story, and also encourages those who can to make a donation.

The campaign was launched this month by Hammond’s Witness Change and Handicap International, who provided Hammond with access to four communities, but did not have editorial control over the images. To find out more visit One Day In My World

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