Faces of Mental Illness

The Benny Fund, an organization committed to raising awareness of mental health issues and eliminating the associated stigma, collaborated on an event with world-renowned American artists Ray & Rhian Ferrer on March 29, 2014. The project, The Real Faces of Mental Illness, is designed to depict, through art, how mental illness indiscriminately affects everyone’s lives. Ray is famous for his unique style of artwork using hand cut stencils and spray paint. Most recently, he was a featured artist at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

“I am a strong supporter of mental health awareness and education. I suffered for the longest time from depression and anxiety and have been diagnosed with PTSD as well,” said Ray Ferrer. “I was afraid to confront the issues due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. Now that I am taking care of my mental health I am able to live a fuller life without the debilitating barriers I was struggling with before. I want this for everyone who struggles with mental illness.”

The Benny Fund was founded in 2014, a few short months after the suicide of Benjamin Neiweem. “This is a cause very near and dear to my family’s heart,” said Holly Neiweem, Ben’s sister and founder of The Benny Fund, who also has been affected by clinical depression. “The lack of knowledge associated with mental illness, coupled with the associated stigma, prevents people from seeking the right treatment. We can all do something to change the discourse in this country. Educate yourself, know the warning signs, have compassion, and don’t be afraid to have uncomfortable conversations – it could save someone’s life,” Neiweem passionately noted.