Stitching Out Stigma

A guest post from Nat McCulloch, the founder of a wonderfully simple, but effective, project called Stitching Out Stigma. I’ll let Nat introduce her project, but I love the fact that it was inspired by the Bayeux tapestry and a Star Wars cross stitch pattern!

SOS cross stitch logoStitching Out Stigma (SOS) was one of my random ideas during a short hospital admission for Anorexia, in 2014. I wanted to start a mental health project with a difference having faced so many experiences, misconceptions and met so many amazing people since my diagnosis over a decade previous. I also wanted to do something combining my current crafty obsession, cross stitch. After reading about two similar projects in magazines, the ideas for SOS began to form. Not feeling confident enough at that point to ‘make decisions’ myself, and also valuing others support/ideas, I messaged a few close friends and family on facebook about my idea of a cross stitch project illustrating the true picture of mental health issues and, after being met with a greatly positive response, the foundations for SOS started to get cemented further.

SOS Round RobinThrough word of mouth, emails to various people/organisations and a lot of help from friends and family, the idea that once was, became the reality of SOS. The results of what has developed speak for themselves. Since it began we’ve amounted over 400 followers worldwide, had 50 beautiful and powerful cross stitch squares donated each depicting individuals journeys/struggles/experiences of mental health issues and several powerful written pieces to accompany the pieces. We have displayed at various locations, featured in various media and had the support of some big names such as the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, John Lewis and the NHS. We’ve developed a community on facebook/twitter @StitchOutStigma, established a website, met up a few times and even developed a few relationships along the way….

For various reasons some people have not submitted pieces to the project, but they have supported us in other ways or begun a piece. The hope is that each person has taken something, learnt something, or enjoyed some part of SOS. Creativity, such as cross stitch, can be an outlet, challenge and/or lifeline for people in times of turmoil or trying times, this is hopefully a benefit for some people of supporting SOS.

SOS patchesThe project is now in its final stages and has been commissioned by Wales NHS to be displayed in their new mental health unit unit in Cardiff for all to see. Obviously, those who are partaking from regions of France, Usa, Norway etc may be unable to see it in person, but their contributions prove valuable to what has become of SOS.

As the founder, I am so proud to present SOS as a display of individuals’ experiences of mental health issues and an insight into some of the struggles, challenges and ‘unspoken’ issues which incredible people live through day in day out. I would love to see people support SOS, add their comments to our blog http://stitchingoutstigmagroup.blogspot.co.uk/ and join us on the mission to ‘stitch out’ some of the sad stigma surrounding mental health.

Nat McCulloch, Stitching Out Stigma

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