'Project 1 In 4' Illustrates The Daily Struggles Of Living With Mental Illness — And Breaks Down Stigma In The Process

If you haven't lived with a mental illness yourself, it can be hard to understand what it's like — and when we don't understand something, we have a tendency to brush it aside or diminish it. But a new art project illustrates exactly why we need to stop doing that… literally: Project 1 in 4 illustrates the daily struggles of living with mental illness. Even if we don't fully understand something, we still owe it both to the people we care about and to the world at large to make an effort to do so; to that end, Project 1 in 4 might help.

Project 1 in 4 draws its name from a statistic that we should probably all be more familiar with than we are: 26.2 percent of American adults — that is, roughly one in four — suffers from a diagnosable condition. One in four. And yet, despite the fact that mental illness is quite common, there is still an absurd amount of stigma against those coping with it, ranging from slapping labels like “weird” and “crazy” onto people to shunning them out of fear that they're “dangerous.” Furthermore, 60 percent of American adults suffering from mental illness received no care for their condition in 2010.

So, in an effort to break down the stigma against mental illness, the anonymous person behind Project 1 in 4 is illustrating “one thought, emotion, or behavior revealed to me through a series of interviews with people who have personally experienced mental illness” per day for 100 days. “These people are our family members, our friends, our co-workers, and our neighbors,” the site states. “Love and support makes all the difference.” I think the fact that the project will be ongoing for 100 days is important; May might be Mental Health Awareness Month, but that doesn't mean we can or should stop caring about mental health awareness once the calendar ticks over to June. Right now the project is on day 41, with 60 days left to go — and let's all make sure we carry on the spirit of the project every day afterwards.

Here are just a few individual takes on what it's like to live with a mental illness, as illustrated by Project 1 in 4. For more, check out the Project 1 in 4 Instagram account and website.

And if you need proof that love and support really do make all the difference:

Images: Project1in4/Instagram (11)