A creative way to boost mental health

Emma Quinn has come a long way after trying to commit suicide six-and-a-half months ago.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 8:00 am
Emma Quinns Piffy & Egg initiative will launch on August 11. Picture by Jane Coltman.

And after making good progress in her own recovery, the North Shields resident is in the process of starting her own business that is also a campaign to help support people with mental health issues.

The secondary aim of Piffy & Egg is that eventually some of the pressures will be relieved from mental health services and those who are in critical need of care will receive it before it is too late.

Following physical health problems last summer that meant she could no longer continue her full-time job as a neonatal intensive care nurse, Emma’s mental health deteriorated.

It continued to get worse and on October 31, she attempted to take her own life.

Her mother was in the room and she telephoned for help. Treatment from the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s (NTW’s) Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team began the next day – this lasted 15 weeks.

She then received ongoing care from a local NTW community mental health team and she was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar affective disorder.

Turning to art helped with her recovery and led to a business idea. All of the sales will include a 7.5 per cent donation to Mind, a mental health charity.

Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Week, the 26-year-old said: “I always concealed when my mental health was suffering, but that made things worse because I was using all my energy to make it appear that I was well.

“The main artwork involved started when I was having a clearout and redecorating a spare room. I used copper tape to form the shape of animals, put it onto cartridge paper and then fitted it into white box frames that I needed to fill.

“The geometric designs meant I could be both organised and creative and this was therapeutic and calming in a time that was otherwise frantic and chaotic.

“A few people asked if they could buy them when they saw my creations and when I put pictures of them on Instagram and they were well-received, I then thought about doing something more and I looked into starting a business that is also a campaign.

“The products will also include other artworks, t-shirts, craft boxes with instructions on how to do your own items and business card size affirmation cards.

“We will be launching on August 11 and I’m very grateful to my family and friends for their support.

“Resources are stretched and so we’re aiming to help some of the people with mental health issues to realise that there are actions they can take and support groups available, which means the people who are in urgent need of major treatment can be seen in better time.”

Emma put Piffy & Egg forward for the Spark and Startup category of Voom Pitch 2018, run by Virgin Media Business. The finalists will get to pitch their ideas to Richard Branson.

She did not quite make it through to the semi-finals, but the business received more than 750 votes and many positive comments.

“The exposure has been brilliant and I’ve had messages from quite a few people opening up about their own mental health experiences,” she said.

The unusual name comes from Emma and her best friend’s nicknames for each other that they came up with a number of years ago that other friends said sounded like a brand name.

For more information about the initiative, go to www.facebook.com/piffyandegg