AboutFORMAT International Photography Festival Off Year Programme
Mark Neville’s Battle Against Stigma project aims to challenge the stigma of mental health problems in the military and to encourage attitude change. This exhibition and book contains a re-telling of Neville’s own personal experience when he was sent out to Helmand in 2011 as an official war artist, and combines his photographs, films, and texts as a means to give some insight into the issue of adjustment disorder which he found he had fallen victim to on his return.
The first 500 copies of his book were seized at customs by UK Border Force, and have yet to be released. The second consignment of 1,000 copies entered the UK via a different route, thus escaping seizure and arriving safely at Neville’s studio. Throughout 2015 Neville distributed the surviving 1,000 copies free to Defence Mental Health Services, prison libraries, homeless veterans, probation services, and veteran mental health charities.
Neville wrote an essay on his PTSD, including extracts taken from the book, which appeared in The Independent News Review magazine in 2015, and in which he encouraged veterans to contact him. The response to the newspaper article was staggering with over 1,000 emails sent from veterans, families and friends, organisations (as well as non-veterans) sharing their experiences of suffering from or knowing someone suffering with these conditions, and requesting copies of the book. Together this mass of documentation constitutes a major new insight into the experiences of those suffering from mental illness following service in modern warfare.
The Battle Against Stigma exhibition at QUAD will connect with veterans, artists, academics, charities and policy makers in order unite the different sectors of society necessary to drive the campaign for improved mental healthcare for service personnel.