TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A photographer in Tallahassee is working to making talking about mental health easier. She hopes to inspire those conversations through a portrait project called “Faces of Hope.”
When it comes to mental health, finding the right words can be tough. “People are scared to talk about it,” explained photographer, Katie Clark. She said she has been living with mental illness herself. “I have bipolar one disorder with psychotic features.”
The pressure of the pandemic has forced many like her into new ways of coping.
“The isolation was really hard,” Clark shared. “I was not able to go to my support groups that really help me out.”
Those groups help people talk out the bad days and celebrate the good. Now, Clark is using her talents as a photographer to inspire more people to share how they’re feeling.
“I wanted to use my art to normalize talking about mental illness,” Clark explained.
Clark works out of FOTO Studio in Railroad Square. The project is called Faces of Hope. It was most recently on display at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Tallahassee. “I see me as a warrior for those who can’t talk,” Clark added.
She joins other groups in Tallahassee offering an outlet for those in need.
“There has been a great increase in need for counseling services,” Dr. Deborah Ebener with Florida State’s Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems told ABC 27.
She helps run a program offering free mental health services to the community.
Maritza Miller has helped with that effort through the FSU Human Services Center.
“There has also been an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety,” Miller explained.
The Kaiser Family Foundation says during the pandemic, about four in ten adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. That’s up from the one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.
Clark says the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Tallahassee has been a big help to her personally. “Through a lot of therapy, medication and help from my friends I’ve been able to be stable,” Clark shared.
Now, she is helping others rebounding toward a brighter future one photograph at a time.
“Reach out. Tell a friend. Don’t be afraid to talk,” Clark concluded.