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Mental Health Toys

Photography: Nick Dunne
Art Direction: Annemarieke Kloosterhof 
Client: Personal project

This series explores various aspect of Mental Health, disorders, and other neurodiversity, in an inviting way that is colourful, accessible and most of all: kid friendly. Each image is made by hand and is created out of paper.
The aim of this project was to create a series of still life photo-illustrations targeted to young children, in a way to help explain these sometimes complicated medical terms through a medium they are familiar with: Toys.

Alle toys.jpg
JENGA TOWER - Burnout.jpg


This first image is a towerblock, 1 second removed from falling over, and represents stress/ burnout.

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders where a person has significant and uncontrollable feelings of anxiety and stress or fear, so much so that it disrupts their social, personal or work life and this is different for every person.

When you have so much worry and stress in your life and it keeps building up until you feel like you are about to collapse if you make one more wrong move (much like a Yenga tower) - this is called a Burn Out, and is usually caused by a stressful job or a difficult period in a person’s life.



The second image features a Rubik's cube, which is impossible to solve, with one square out of place, and represents OCD.

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental and behavioural disorder where a person has intrusive thoughts and/or feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly to the extent where it induces distress or impairs general function. Commonly misunderstood, the term OCD is often used by people who self identify as being a bit of a neat-freak. This is not the same as being diagnosed with OCD.  Examples of people with OCD are: repeatedly turning light-switches on and off before being able to leave a room, or not being able to concentrate on the TV unless the volume is at a very specific number.


Social Anxiety

The third image is a set of disconnected Walkie-Talkies, symbolising Social Anxiety.

Social Anxiety is more than shyness.

It's a fear that does not go away and it affects everyday activities, self confidence, relationships and work or school life. Many people occasionally worry about social situations, but someone with social anxiety feels overly worried before, during and after them.

For some people it gets better as they get older. But for many people it does not go away on its own without treatment.

Picking up the phone and getting in touch with strangers, or even friends or family, can feel daunting... arranging to meet up in person even more so! 



The fourth image is of a set of letter blocks, which placed in the wrong order and with the letter B turned upside down. This image represents Dyslexia. 

Also known as ‘reading disorder’, Dyslexia is a disorder where people have difficulty reading, writing or spelling. Some people with dyslexia confuse letters and swap them around or write them backwards (often D’s & B’s) or they start writing letters of the next word in the sentence before it is their turn. Some people also struggle with time management, staying organised, and a lack of sense of direction (confusing left & right). Dyslexia is the most common learning disability and happens in all areas of the world: up to 20% of all people may have some light or strong symptoms of dyslexia.

Behind The Scenes

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