Mental Health, An Ongoing Journey

Melissa Van Oirschot

A woman, Laura, at horse therapy tenderly touching a orange/brown coloured horse's snout in the winter on a farm.

This photographic documentary is about my friend Laura and the exploration of the private aspects of mental illness that is not shown to the public. Mental Illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians, and is most commonly affected in individuals from ages 15 to 24. Mental health is a reality to many individuals, however it is not discussed enough. There is a stigma around mental health due to the lack of communication and understanding of what it entails. I created this work to raise further awareness and help destigmatize mental health for those who are not aware of the journey those individuals go through.

Laura knew she was battling with mental illnesses from a young age, and throughout the years has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and hypomania. She has reached out to many professionals and support groups to help her with her ongoing battles, and has now become an advocate for mental illness. She has traveled around Toronto to talk to groups of individuals, adults and youth, about her personal mental health and life journey, in hopes she can help others going through similar situations.

A woman, Laura, writes intently in her notebook as a way to cope with the stresses and emotions she faces in day to day life.
An Image of a black rock with the words "safe" written in gold, sitting on a windowsill up against a leafy plant.
A woman's arms crossed, hugging a pillow, in a crossed legged position, pinching her own forearm as a way to cause self harm and feel something.
A woman, Laura, with a face mask on in her therapist's office, talking emotionally to her therapist. Laura is in focus and is shown over her therapist's blurred shoulder.
Melissa Van Oirschot

Melissa Van Oirschot

Melissa Van Oirschot is a freelance photographer based in Toronto and Durham Region.

She will be receiving her Photography BFA from Toronto Metropolitan University in April this year and will continue photographing events, headshots/portraits and environmental images.

Photography is a way to remember and share important moments with family and friends. When photographing she strives to capture the true beauty and emotion in every individual image, in portraits and in nature.