Doll Hospital: the mental health journal with intersectionality at its core

Doll Hospital is a bi-annual online and printed journal on mental health, brightly and deliciously illustrated with poetry, essays, interviews and thoughts from the mentally ill community.

It was created by Bethany Rose Lamont, a PHD student, back in May 2014 after putting out a tweet to see if anyone would be interested in contributing.

The idea had stemmed from a history of living with mental health problems, and a need to see something that went beyond the “harrowing personal essay” that was often being given to mainstream magazines for the company’s profit- rather than writers benefit.

As told to Dazed Digital: “I don’t have my shit together, I’m severely mentally ill and I find basic stuff really hard.

“I’m in my mid twenties now and I’ve had serious mental health problems since I was 10, so I’ve had mental health struggles for over half my life now.

As a result, I want to cultivate a model of mental health discussion for people who might not necessarily get better, who might have to be on meds their whole life. I don’t want to talk about recovery, I want to talk about surviving.”

The response to that initial tweet was “really exciting” and the journal was formally launched on Kickstarter, reaching its funding goal and was printed in December.

Print copies sold out in 48 hours and Issue Two followed a year later.

Doll Hospital emphasises the need for inter-sectional content in terms of mental health, something that Lamont said “is closely tied with race, class, colonialism and disability.”

In addition, she stressed that she wanted to move away from the two archetypes of mental illness: the tortured white man genius and the fragile, skinny white girl who is loved not despite of her illness.

Doll Hospital itself is something quite new. The mentally ill, and more importantly minorities within the mentally ill community are not only encouraged to have a voice, but it is one of the journal’s main aims.

It packages and places the experiences and thoughts of those who are not neurotypical first, and does it through colourful illustrations and clever comics.

Lamont is a “huge fan of using images, artwork and other playful forms… often messy subjects require unconventional mediums.”

In all, Doll Hospital is a beautifully crafted and gorgeous outlet for and by the community, with its mix of written word and illustration.

It is for the mentally ill, by the mentally ill. No more and no less. That in itself seems revolutionary.

Doll Hospital is no longer taking written submissions, but are still looking for visual contributions for their upcoming issues.

(Originally published on now-defunct Ameliorate Magazine.)