“The idea is to allow people to know that it’s okay not to feel okay,” MacIntosh said during a September 5 phone interview. “There are people who struggle with depression, anxiety, post-partum depression all the time, from the mild to the severe.”
MacIntosh began planning on her project, Mental Health Awareness: One Picture at a Time, not long after her father committed suicide in May of this year. She is open about the family tragedy, explaining that she first posted a video on Facebook where she talked about her father’s death and how it came as a surprise to everyone.
“My family and I did not know his depression was as bad as that,” she said, adding that her father had coped with depression for as long as she had known him. “We all thought he was getting better.”
MacIntosh herself also deals with depression and in the video she talked about how it affects her and how she has now let her family know about her situation. Then she turned her attention to her current project, which gives local people a chance to explain how depression or anxiety or other emotional and psychological issues affect their lives and how they try to deal with those issues.
The goals of Mental Health Awareness: One Picture at a Time are to give local people a chance to speak out about their problems and how they handle them, and also help make others understand that mental health is a very human issue.
MacIntosh, a professional photographer, will be at Parc Du Moulin in Rockland on September 26 afternoon. She will take photos of people who reserve one of several five-minute time slots for the event. They can pose for the photo alone or with family or friends, and with something that helps them cope with their own personal mental health situation.
“Or they can just give a smile,” said MacIntosh, adding that what’s important is that participants show that mental health is a community issue and that they are doing what they can to deal with the matter.
Reservations for the photo sessions are made through the project’s Facebook page. So far, MacIntosh has 19 reservations. There is no charge for the photo sessions. Any donations people want to make will go to the Canadian Mental Health Association. If the weather is inclement on September 26 then the photo shoot will be rescheduled to the next weekend.
“If this is really successful,” said MacIntosh. “We’re going to do it again in the spring.”