A psychology graduate has introduced a range of temporary tattoos in a bid to motivate sufferers of mental health problems and prevent people from self-harming behaviours.
Francesca Timbers, a psychology graduate, first came up with the idea for the plaster designs labelled with inspiring messages as she sat in her parent’s front room in 2015.
She started the project to create the five-day transfers after she was weighed down with suicidal thoughts following being diagnosed with optic neuritis in 2011. Optic neuritis is an inflammation of the optic nerve, which sends messages from your eyes to your brain.
“I initially designed these tattoos for myself after dealing with my own mental health issues, following a long period of ill health.” she told The Metro.
“The idea with the tattoos is that having something visually on your skin offers an alternative way of expressing your feelings and conflicts externally, rather than resorting to self-harming behaviours.
“Mental illness is mostly an invisible illness, so it always helps when people to have a way to make their feelings more visible.”
— Helen Miller (@Aquamonkey92) May 11, 2017
“Whenever your friends and family see you wearing these, they will know that you need extra care and support that day. Because your mental health is important. Your self-care is important. And you are important.”
So far, the designs have proved incredibly popular, with 20,000 packs sold to more than 60 different countries.
Timbers has branched out into selling tactile bandage pins, too, after learning of evidence that tactile stimulation can reduce anxiety.
While the sales speak for themselves in terms of how desirable the products are, many have criticised the simplicity of this approach, pointing out that mental health problems are complex, and not easily solved by ‘putting a plaster over it’:
IT HAPPENED TO ME: a sticker that said “you are cute” cured my bipolar disorder https://t.co/HByg2j8FMp
— ‘Emily Reynolds’ (@rey_z) May 10, 2017
@rey_z i got one from the dentist that said i was a brave boy and it cured my impacted wisdom tooth
— an absolute legend (@bnmrsl) May 10, 2017
— Olivia White (@owlcavedev) May 10, 2017
@rey_z Oh wow! I’m slapping these all over my mates! These’ll deffinitely stop the suicidal thoughts!
— Ady (@Feryl3) May 10, 2017
A naïve attempt to jump on the mental health band wagon, or a neat idea to remind people that their feelings won’t last? The jury is out on this one.