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Comic stories describe the daily lives of people with mental illness

Dept 58 - International Relations
Dept 58 - International Relations

Published

Updated 12-9-2019
  • Mistake in title

People with schizophrenia or depression are not dangerous and there is no reason to avoid them. But their behaviour may seem strange to someone, and their live is often harder because of prejudices. The effects of mental illness on man’s life and his surroundings are shown in comics, which were prepared by the representatives of FOKUS České Budějovice in partnership with FOKUS Tábor in previous period of EEA and Norway Grants. To increase their knowledge of the topic, they elaborated real stories of their clients.

The technician brought to Mrs. Šárka a new washing machine seven years ago. His well-meant warning: “Beware of the drain hose,” raised concern that it would flood the neighbours and maybe the entire city. The washing machine therefore stood unused in the bathroom for years and Mrs. Šárka was washing all her laundry by hand in the bathtub. Later, thanks to support of social worker, Mrs. Šárka quickly overcame fear and now she handles it all by herself. This is one of the real and in comic form portrayed stories of how paranoid schizophrenia can affect human life. Comics readers can also get acquainted with Monika, who suffers depression and to whom are not helpful unwanted advices from her surroundings like “Recover.”, “Head up!”, “Be cool!”, “Relax”, “Take hold!”. On the contrary they deepen her loneliness and hopelessness. Monika would like no one to force her into anything, and perhaps just hug her without saying anything. Another hero is former businessman and technically proficient Ludvík, who succeeded several times in the selection procedure for a new job but didn’t pass the medical examination. Maybe because of prejudices. “We had twenty drafts for comics, and finally we created six of them across diagnoses and symptoms of diseases,” said director of FOKUS České Budějovice Zdenka Kuviková.

The comics, processed by Baobab publishing and specifically by artist Stanislav Setínský, were published in Respekt magazine in 2015 and 2016. Apart fromcomics there were written articles with stories of clients, which were published in MF Dnes and e. g. printed Newspaper about people you don’t have to avoid in 10,000 copies. Those interested can view them in all libraries in the Czech Republic. Fans can see Facebook page with actual contributions to this topic.

Main phase of the project was completed more than three years ago, but public awareness continues to be spread by comic book heroes and their stories. A1 comic book posters and newspapers could have been seen at many exhibitions in libraries, cafes or universities. “Comics still have a great response. Nowadays we take them to seminars with care providers in our region. Creating them was a big opportunity for us and an experience as well. We managed to collect interesting stories and the resulting graphic design is successful. The way of expressing the story had to be found very sensitively, so it would have not actually stigmatized or offended the heroes. From a distance, we would try to add even more positive examples. E.g. one of our clients, who transformed from the role of the ill one to the different life role, started to function as father, get a job and started his path to recovery. Such stories empower us – workers. Thanks to them we pass on energy to other clients, they also show the way and determine the values which we share.”, described Zdenka Kuviková.

Those interested have another opportunity to see the comics live at Grand Priory Palace in Prague. Their exhibition is an accompanying program of the opening conference of the programme Health, which takes place on 19th September 2019 and is part of the educational event Weeks of Mental Health. Details of the planned Health Programme calls, which also focus on mental health, can be found here.

Project “Those we avoid” was supported in past programme period of the EEA and Norway Grants.