Anna McNay

A Snapshot of the Mind. Essay on mental health, photography and the work of Daniel Regan


A Snapshot of the Mind

Essay on mental health, photography and the work of Daniel Regan

Living with mental health issues is not easy. First, there
is the struggle with the issues themselves, then there is the stigma attached.
Society, in its general ignorance, has a fear of certain diagnoses – certain
labels – and, as a result, many of us hide our struggles in shame. Feeling
alone, feeling isolated, feeling like no one else could ever possibly feel – or
do – as you do, let alone understand, is shaming – and shame is nothing if not

Recently, with the opening of the newly renovated Bethlem
Gallery, I saw some work which shook me – shook me in a positive way – because,
in it, I recognised my own behaviours, my own coping (or non-coping)
mechanisms, my own shame. The relief of such cataclysmic moments, when, through
looking at art, I am reminded that, actually, I am not alone, is always immense. Since this day, a few weeks back, I
have been looking around for more artists whose work touches upon mental health
and I was happily reminded of photographer Daniel Regan, whom I first met just
over a year ago. Looking at Daniel’s work – as I have been in earnest this past
week – has opened more doors to self-recognition, to feeling less alone, to a
sense of hope, and to a pride – a pride in Daniel for being ‘one of us’ who is
willing to speak out, to reach out, and, who, by empowering himself, empowers
other people.

This essay was commissioned by Photoworks as part of their What Are You Looking At? ideas series.

To read the rest of this essay, please go to:


Daniel Regan



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