Never Give In: Artist Exclusive With Willow Brailsford

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Willow, a 14-year-old Cardiffian, shares how gaming can encourage creativity and be a great way to express yourself.

This article is part of the Never Give In campaign, where 21 young Cardiffians were commissioned to create a piece of art showing how gaming affects their mental health. This is the story of Willow, a 14-year-old artist who was part of the project.

How has gaming affected your mental health? 

Gaming has helped me relax and can sometimes distract me when I’m getting stressed. It calms me down a lot and I enjoy doing it with my friends. I can’t say it’s let me make more friends as I’m cautious online but it helps in so many other ways and is really fun!  

It also really helps me express myself and who I am in ways maybe I can’t in the real world. I love customising characters and building things. I’m a big fan of the more creative sides to games, but that’s not to say the rest aren’t awesome – I love them too.

Whenever I’m overwhelmed or panicking, I love to sit down and just dive headfirst into a game! I do love gaming even though I tend to limit myself to one or two but I’m excited to branch out to different kinds of games.

What inspired you to create this artwork?

I was inspired to create this artwork as I feel it could help others understand how gaming does in fact improve and help mental health. There is a big stigma around gaming with lots of people assuming that certain video games make you violent, which I believe to be completely wrong.

I hope my artwork inspires others to be proud of gaming and of their mental health. I hope it also helps someone try to get help outside of gaming.

My artwork is there to show the importance of mental health and just one way I try to improve mine. There are thousands of other ways, this is just the one I chose to show in this piece.

As you can see, I used 2 differing pictures and manipulated the colours to work to my advantage. I used a jarring difference in the background colour and a health bar to show the improvement of one’s mood due to the video game.

What message would you give to someone who is struggling with their mental health?

I know it sounds super cliché but it actually does get better. I know it is hard right now but just try to power through and find yourself a good support system. Whether it’s friends or family, this is super important, as well as trying to get into good habits. For example, I try to give myself 30 minutes before I sleep to calm down and reflect on what I’ve done that day. Honestly, just keep going – you’ve got this!

To find out more about the Never Give In campaign and see the incredible artwork from all of the other artists, click HERE.

Struggling with your mental health? Check out TheSprout’s Mental Health Information Page where you can find loads of local and national support services.

If you’re sharing our posts from the Never Give In campaign on social media, remember to use the #PositiveMentalGaming hashtag. Feel free to tag us so we can see what you’re sharing!

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