Honesty can be difficult when it comes to admitting to mental illness.
One in four of us will have a mental illness at some point and yet few of us care to admit to problems.
Those who have are praised for having tackled head-on the stigma that is still attached.
Most recently the film star Catherine Zeta-Jones admitted she was suffering from a bipolar disorder.
And yet as Alastair Campbell, who has also suffered from depression, pointed out in his blog: “Not all bipolar sufferers look like Stephen Fry or Catherine Zeta-Jones … They look like the woman next door, the guy on the bus, the colleague across the office, the kid you met on holiday last year.”
When he spoke to the Royal College of Nursing, Campbell also said that better understanding must be an accompaniment to good treatment not a substitute.
And this is precisely what photographer Graham Miller has sought to capture.
Over the past year Miller has photographed adults recovering from severe and/or enduring mental illnesses in the Walled Garden – a therapeutic garden within the grounds of Perth’s Murray Royal Hospital.
This is a community-based support service run by the Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Service, which helps people from the Perth and Strathmore areas recover in a supported work environment.
Taking and keeping a job has consistently been shown as key to emotional wellbeing boosting confidence and self esteem.
Many of the Walled Garden’s clients have returned to jobs having learnt new skills in the public gardens, café, joinery and crafts workshops .
The project – “The most important people in the World: Honesty” – resulted in a spectacular exhibition addressing the stigma attached to mental illness while reminding those affected of their importance to society, some of which can be viewed here.
“In the recent past we’ve all been reminded of the importance of honesty,” says Miller. “And the people I’ve worked with have that characteristic in abundance, no hidden agendas.”
Miller is currently working on a Down’s Syndrome project, which will be published next summer during the World Down’s Congress.
Miller’s work can be viewed at www.photohonesty.org.