Chances are, you either know someone who suffers with mental illness, or you suffer with it yourself. Maybe both. According to the Office for National Statistics, one in four adults in the UK are affected by mental health problems, particularly depression or anxiety (19% of people over the age of 16).
It’s all around us, yet for years, mental illness has been a taboo subject. The stigma is starting to lift, but the difficulty is that mental health problems are by nature invisible afflictions.
Project Semicolon is one of the many organisations working hard to change that. The Project Semicolon website says: “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
On social media recently, a lot of people have been sharing pictures of semi-colon tattoos or temporary tattoos as a sign of hope. They have all struggled with depression and mental illness, and many of them have come close to ending their life. The image of the semicolon reminds them that they’ve chosen to keep going and that they are not alone.
They describe themselves as a “faith-based movement”, recognising that a lot of them have found hope and strength to keep going through God’s love.
On the Project Semicolon blog, Brandi Schneider talks about the church’s relationship with mental health:
“I wish that the church was more open to talking about mental illness. The ugliness behind it. The really hard and uncomfortable details. The crippling depression. The overwhelming anxiety. The thoughts of suicide. Those are all real things that so many people feel. But they assume that they are the only ones who feel that way because not even the church can provide them a safe place to have those conversations.”
She adds: “The church can be and is a beautiful place. And I hope that you find the courage to try again. I hope that you know that you are still incredibly loved. Things won’t always be this way. There is light at the end of the tunnel. And I fully believe that one day, we won’t have to be so hush hush about our illnesses in the one place we should be able to go for healing.