New website aims to end stigma surrounding mental health illnesses

If you’re an artist looking to give voice to a new project during the upcoming holiday break, Erin Chapman has got some good news for you.

Chapman, a fourth-year communications student at the University of Ottawa, is calling all artists to join her in the fight for mental health awareness through her new website—The Ventilation Movement.

“The idea came from the way that I usually process things. If ever I’m struggling with something or I’m having a hard time, I go in the dance studio and I just start creating things, or I write everything down, like poetry,” said Chapman.

The website serves as a platform for artists of various crafts to promote their work and speak out against issues surrounding mental health, and the stigmas associated with it, or to just “vent” their feelings.

Chapman is no stranger to the act of dealing with her struggles through her art, having competed in dance shows since she was five years old.

“When you’re creating a piece, everything is so open to interpretation. So when I’m dancing, I don’t have to actually tell someone what’s wrong and what I’m feeling, I can just kind of release and ventilate through my movements,” she explained.

Chapman also shared that her website was partly inspired by postsecret.com, a website where people can anonymously send in their secrets to be posted every Sunday.

“It’s so refreshing to look at this website and realize that people aren’t alone, and everyone can relate to the secrets that people are sharing. As a dancer, I love the idea of that.”

Chapman wanted to start a website to showcase her work for over two years now, and finally found the opportunity through her media communications course at the U of O. Although the website is still under construction, dance, music, and written word sections are being updated as content is submitted, and Chapman hopes to expand the kinds of artwork that will be displayed in the near future.

While The Ventilation Movement initially started as something she could use for herself, Chapman believes that her website is a tool that can benefit the art community as a whole.

“It’s a great way to showcase your work, and be seen in the community,” she said, adding that “it shows other artists that there is a community that they can reach out to, and create networks, all at the same time reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness.”

Chapman shed light on the fact that her most inspired works have come from dark places in the past, and she hopes that this website will act as an outlet to help other artists express themselves similarly in a healthy way.

Artists can submit their work to be shared on the website by emailing artist release forms to ventilationmovement@gmail.com.