How Mental Health Zines are Revolutionizing the Way People Talk About Mental Illness
What is a Mental Health Zine?
A zine is a self-published work produced as a way for the publisher to share ideas, opinions, and information. The term "zine" comes from the word "magazine."
In recent years, mental health zines have been created by those who want to raise awareness about mental health. These people publish their work to provide an inside perspective of living with a mental health condition. Zines are sometimes called "mini-comics" because they include illustrations and short comic strips that tell short stories about characters with living mental illnesses. Mental Health zines also often contain essays or comics sharing lived experiences surrounding mental health, like living with depression or trauma.
What Are the Benefits of Mental Health Zines?
Mental health zines are personal, honest, and non-judgmental.
They let you express yourself in an unedited way. Zines allow you to communicate mental health experiences in a more relatable way. Zines encourage acceptance of your mental health experience. You learn to accept yourself for who you are and become less self-conscious about the challenges that come with it. This is important because many people can feel isolated or shame surrounding their experience with mental ill-health.
Zines also provide a platform for marginalized voices, such as queer youth or sexual assault survivors.
Some zine creators find them more liberating than traditional forms of publishing because the publishers don't control every aspect of the final product.
It can be very therapeutic to write your own zine! It can also be therapeutic for others who read it, helping them get past their own struggles with mental illness by reading about someone else's experience and not feeling so alone.
What are the Different Types of Mental Health Zines?
Mental health zines are a zine that deals with mental illness in an educational, curated, and empowering way. Below are some examples of mental health zines that you might find:
- Depression Zines
- Anxiety Zines
- Trauma and PTSD zines
- Zines about addiction
- Zines about treatment experiences
- And many other Mental Health Topics
How to Start Writing a Mental Health Zine
Zines are a great resource for people who want to learn how to self-publish without investing in materials, distribution channels, or advertising.
Mental health zines have been around since the 1940s, when they were distributed by mental health advocacy groups to educate the public about mental illness.
The best way to start writing a zine is with a plan in mind. Start with an idea of what you want your zine to be about, and then start drafting some content for it.
Some tips for creating an outline:
- Brainstorm all of your ideas and write them down on paper.
- Organize your ideas into categories and make sure they are relevant to one another.
- Write out a rough draft of your content, let it sit, and revisit it.
- Mockup some draft zine formats and sizes that you'd like to try. Do you want to make a saddle-stitch zine, or mini-zine? Once you've decided on the format, see how your draft content will work with the format.
- Experiment, experiment, experiment! That's the fun of zine-making.
- Try not to be over critical of your work, the best thing about zines is that they are rough, and personal works of art.
Dealing with Difficult Subjects
This section will provide some suggestions for addressing triggering content when creating a mental health zine.
Triggering content can cause flashbacks or other symptoms of post-traumatic event. When creating a mental health zine, make sure you are okay if you are dealing with a difficult topic. A self-check-in is a good idea, and keeping on top of your usual self-care practices (therapy, taking breaks, connecting with your community, doing enjoyable activities).
If your zine touches on topics that may trigger readers, consider adding a note inside the front of your zine to notify readers of the subject-matter in advance. There is conflicting evidence around the benefits of using trigger warnings that are worth exploring and thinking over too.
Mental health issues are some of the most common chronic illnesses globally.
Around 18% of adults in the U.S., and an even higher percentage of young people, live with a mental illness. Mental illness can be incredibly debilitating and lead to significant social isolation and stigmatization.
Zines provide a wonderful outlet for people who don't have access to traditional means of publishing to express ideas freely, help reduce mental health stigma, and support each other.