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Young artist delves deep into aspects of mental health
Through her comic strips and illustrations, digital artist Sruthi Mohan has dedicated her creative works to set off conversations around mental wellbeing
Even though mental health has come into public focus around the world over the past few years, the many ways in which mental health issues manifest aren’t often dealt with. For instance, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which involves compulsive and repetitive behaviours, often found to have a link with other mental disorders like depression (as specified on the National Health Portal), is used more commonly as a joke. Drawing from her personal struggles, digital artist Sruthi Mohan has been throwing light on the many aspects of mental health through illustrations and comic strips.
“I have always been very introverted and grappled with sleeplessness and loneliness from my childhood. It was only a few years ago that I learnt about mental health issues. Ever since then, I found that art can be an outlet for my battles with identity,” says Sruthi Mohan, 22, a freelance artist.
Through her recent ‘26 Days of Type’ project shared on Instagram, she explores various kinds of mental illnesses corresponding to different letters of the alphabet. For instance, the artist throws light on anxiety (for letter A) using elements of Japanese anime, with dominant colours like black and red, which she says is representative of pain one goes through due to anxiety. She also explores subjects like body dysmorphia (for letter B), which is a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in physical appearance, grandiose delusion (for letter G), which is an over-inflated sense of worth or identity, and nightmare disorder (for letter N), a sleep disorder which involves frequent nightmares that portray one’s life at risk.
There is focus on even the lesser known reactive attachment disorder, a condition wherein children don’t form a healthy emotional bond with a parental figure, and voyeuristic disorder, which involves urges and behaviour outside the accepted norm. “I had to do an extensive amount of research from books and the internet to learn about different disorders and how they can affect a person. I wanted to showcase both male and female characters and people of different skin colours, to show that these disorders can affect anyone,” Sruthi elaborates. It was necessary to represent each mental health aspect correctly and not give in to stereotypes, she adds.
Her primary aim was to normalise discussions around mental health issues, the artist stresses. “Even during my college, where I studied electronic media, I worked on a short film on post-partum depression, which is another subject that remains a taboo. I’ve also made comic strips on the subject too. While art has been a part of my life while growing up, I began using it to showcase various mental disorders when I got to college. My introvertedness made it difficult to share about my problems to someone, so drawing about them made it easier to express,” she explains.
In future, Sruthi plans to create merchandise that includes her artworks. “I want people to be able to learn about mental health from my art,” she remarks.