On World Mental Health Day 2019, a new exhibition revealed the stark and powerful picture of potential that is lost across the world to people, families, communities, businesses and society due to neglected mental health and suicide. It also showed the potential of everything that can be found when people receive the support they need.
Suicide has led to tremendous worldwide loss. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of deaths by suicide at 800,000 across the world every year. That’s one person losing their life every 40 seconds. Suicide rates in the United Kingdom jumped nearly 12% in 2018, the first rise in seven years. Last World Mental Health Day, the WHO wanted to show that suicide is preventable.
The Museum was a rallying cry to us all - it’s time for a mental health revolution.
The museum was created by Speak Your Mind - the nationally driven, globally united campaign that wants everyone, everywhere to have the mental health support they need, in partnership with HSBC. After the world premiere in London’s Covent Garden, the museum was planning to journey across the world as a travelling exhibition in 2020 however this has been paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The museum shared 16 interactive portraits of people from across the world. Together these poignant, personal stories demanded that more be done to support mental health across all aspects of our lives.
Through video, sound, and real and imagined artefacts, visitors were transported to lost and found chapters in the lives of the people whose stories were told in the museum. People lost to suicide and their loved ones were also featured. There was a focus throughout, on the importance of the world investing more in the research and evidence that can identify solutions that improve mental health.
The stories in the Museum of Lost and Found Potential ranged from a survivor of multiple suicide attempts now writing books and making films to support others, to a Ghanaian women who lost her job due to bipolar and psychosis, now receiving treatment and back working. The many everyday artefacts featured in the museum vary from the riding boot of an Australian teenager who died by suicide, to an installation depicting the story of a then 9-year-old Nepalese woman, just returned from human trafficking, finding stability through cooking.
The mother of a young woman in the US who died by suicide aged 20, after years of suicidal ideation tendencies due to severe mental health issues, supported the Museum in memory of her daughter through the Korum for Kids Foundation, established by her parents more than four decades ago. Speak Your Mind dedicated the exhibition in her honour.
Visitors to the museum were asked to ‘Speak Your Mind’ and add a message to the #SpeakYourMind #40seconds voice petition, being signed by people joining their voices together across the world to urge leaders to provide quality support in mental health so that everyone, everywhere can reach their full potential.
Creative Concept – Havas and Speak Your Mind Campaigners around the world
Museum Curator – Andy Franzkowiak
Museum Designer – Nissen Richards Studio
Lead Artist – Nestor Pestana
Artists - Unit Lab, Rūta Irbīte
Sound Design - Christian Duka
Lighting Design - Ben Donoghue