Mental health photography project event at Penryn Campus

Cornwall’s Local Hero photography exhibition is now visiting Penryn Campus, shared by Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, with a public launch event taking place on Wednesday, February 5 at 7pm.

This is a joint project between photographer Jon Mackenzie, Cornwall Council, Wavelength magazine, and the male suicide prevention charity CALM, who use the powerful stories and images Jon captures to help people to explore their own mental health, and open up to others about their feelings.

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The subjects in Jon’s photographs relate to the proportion of suicides amongst men and women in the UK, with 75 percent male and 25 percent female.

The exhibition has been in several places so far, including Wheal Kitty in St Agnes, and Cornwall Council’s County Hall in Truro.

Cllr Sally Hawken, portfolio holder for children, wellbeing and public health said: “Our mental health is just as important as our physical health so I feel strongly that we need to be able to talk more openly about it and make it less of a stigma for people. The exhibition is excellent and Jon’s style of photography is very thought provoking. I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it to go along to the event and see it for yourself.”

Photographer Jon Mackenzie said: “Everyone has had really positive responses to the work and its triggering and stimulating conversations around mental health. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure how this exhibition would be received and just hoped that people would come to see it, talk about mental health and then we’d be able to direct them to services. In reality it’s had a much bigger impact than I thought possible and those people photographed have reported to me how much it has helped them too.”

Michelle Lewis, Head of Student Support, said: “We’re very pleased to bring this exhibition to our students. The collection of photographs of people in Cornwall and their accompanying story is very powerful and we hope our students and staff, who are all welcome to visit, will enjoy and appreciate the collection and it will help people start conversations about mental health.”

Cllr Sally Hawken added: “On average, one person a week dies by suicide in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which is higher than other areas of the South West. It is the Council’s priority that everyone should have better health and this very much includes mental health.”

Alongside the exhibition Jon has also launched a number of camera clubs supported by CALM, similar in idea to the man shed projects, where men can turn up to discuss photography, take photos and have a chat if they wish.

The exhibition will be at Penryn Campus and is based in the library area. The event on 5 February is a drop-in event from 7pm until 9pm and people can just turn up without booking a place. More information can be found on the Facebook event page.

If you have concerns about your mental health and wellbeing it is recommended that you first contact your GP to talk over your concerns. They will be able to direct you to the most appropriate support for your needs.

There is also a range of support and advice available on the Council’s website

Story posted on 4 February