Under the auspices of
Μy interest in the various forms of mental illness that plague more and more people nowadays stems from my personal experience, my twice reoccurring battle with depression. The quest for pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment, the search for hospitals and emergency psychiatric care institutions, the research into the maze of a fragmented public health psychiatric system, urged me to confront the shortages, the contradictions, the isolation and the social stigma of those suffering from a mental illness.
Hundreds of them end up in psychiatric hospitals and the psychiatric departments of general hospitals – incarcerated, sometimes confined, addicted to prescription drugs, and condemned to return again and again after each release. The allegedly “lucky ones”, are housed in public reintegration and psychosocial rehabilitation institutions. There, I got to meet psychotics who work, fall in love, play sports, enjoy themselves, their children and their lives, and feel hopeful for the future. In most cases, mental illness emanates from deep agony. Dealing with it is not the same process when it’s done inside and outside the mental institution.
The battle for deinstitutionalization is at the heart of an attempted psychiatric reform that remains incomplete in Greece and identifies with the struggle for democracy in the field of health and mental health. Through my photographic journey I have struggled to highlight various aspects of the daily lives of the mentally ill and those who stand by their side; such aspects can never be found in medical records or in the restrictive formulation of psychiatric diagnoses and treatment protocols. It is an attempt to illustrate how our society perceives not only mental health in general, but also whatever seems to deviate from what is defined as “normal” .