Design student’s bold way to share mental health message

Polly Abbott with her brain character in Church Square
Polly Abbott with her brain character in Church Square

Graphic design student Polly Abbott certainly made an impression when she dressed in bright pink and took to the streets of Hartlepool to raise awareness about mental health.

The 21-year-old invited passers by to hold a large brain shaped cushion she made to display the importance of sharing the weight of problems.

Polly Abbott with another of her creations

Polly Abbott with another of her creations

Friends photographed and filmed Polly to share on social media to spread the message further.

Polly drew lots of attention when she stood in Hartlepool’s Church Square on a busy lunchtime.

She said: “It is to encourage people to share the weight of their problems.

“If you are carrying it alone it’s a struggle but if you talk to each other it’s easier.

“People are often a bit shy in talking about mental health but I’m being really bold and saying ‘look at this’.

“I make cartoon characters and artwork. I just want to make artwork that actually makes an impact.

“It’s all well and good to make art that is pretty but if you can give it a function then that is great.

“This took me three days to make and a few tears as it broke my sewing machine.”

Polly, who lives in Seaton, was joined by her boyfriend Sean Skinner who filmed the exercise and cousin Will Charlton snapped her with passers by.

Polly, who is studying at Teesside University, added: “We are sharing it on social media. It is really just to try and share the message in as many different ways as we can.

“Other people have been taking photos and sharing it round their friends which is great.”

Friend Andrew Dorrian who stopped by said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea and a very thoughtful thing to do.”

Polly, who creates work under her brand name Go Goofy, plans to enter the artwork into an awards scheme run by the charitable incorporated organisation Creative Conscience.

The organisation says its aim is to inspire designers and the creative industries to apply their talents to socially valuable projects.

It said: “Our Awards encourage, recognise and reward students and graduates from around the World, across the design spectrum to develop concepts and projects that are in line with our aims.”

Last year while studying at Hartlepool College of Further Education, Polly staged a three day exhibition showcasing her work.

She said then: “I want cartoons to be taken seriously within the art community”.