Mental Health may be one of the most common illnesses that human beings deal with on a daily basis and yet, it is one of the least talked about subjects in everyday life.
A group of local women. and a few men, in Drumheller, are on their journey to breaking the stigma around mental illnesses, one photograph at a time.
Wanida McHugh, Krystin McHugh and Heather Palmer have started a photography campaign based on the struggles of life, but also the journey of how they overcame them.
"I came up with this because I was having my own struggles in life," explained Wanida McHugh about what she calls, The Mental Health Project. "I quit drinking well over a year and a half ago and thought one night, 'Why aren't there programs for people that have mental health issues and want to share but are too afraid to?"
Alberta Health Services does provide certain mental health/addictions counselling but McHugh allayed that The Mental Health Project is a way to get people together to form a union in fighting off mental illnesses.
"My passion is photography, for me the first thing that I thought of was maybe I could do some kind of photos with the people, help them see how beautiful they are, be able to tell their story, and help other people relate," explained photographer Krystin McHugh owner of Through the Looking Glass Photography. "We have had an amazing response. We hope to kind of carry through, because it is not something you want to say once, and then leave it at that."
Each photo features someone who has gone through trauma in their lives. They open up and tell their story, in hopes that it will help someone else who went through something similar.
"I just think that we all suffer some sort of trauma in our lives, and speaking about it and sharing with other people, and knowing that there is someone sitting right beside you suffering the same fate, has given me strength," explained participant Heather Palmer.
She went on to urge that this photoshoot applies to everyone and that they have formed a support group, meeting up for coffee at least once a month to offer support, advice, and just an outlet to share experiences.
"My goal is to build up young men and women, young children. Teach them their worth, so that when they get older they know they are worthy. They know they are here for a reason."
Locals who have participated in the project are Noel Spooner, Lisa McKenzie, Nicky Marie and Dakota McHugh.
The photos can be found on the Through the Looking Glass Photography facebook page here.