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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Sustainable Prospects – Shoot Mod4#13 – Behind the Mask – Iain


Figure 1: Sutherst. Iain. 2017

Iain was unknown to me before this shoot. He contacted me through my Facebook page and volunteered to take part. His aim for the session was to help raise awareness of depression.  Recently, many celebrities have revealed their battles with depression in an attempt to make all forms of mental illness a normal topic of conversation, one that is not shameful or stigmatised. Link to a recent article where celebrities reveal this.

Depression is not a weakness or personality trait. It is a recognised medical condition.  But this does not stop it carrying a feeling of shame or stigma. It is not merely a cry for attention or wanting people to feel sorry for you.  It is not a choice.  It is a complex medical disorder. It has an underlying cause and, like other medical conditions, it requires treatment to improve.

“Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.”

– (, 2017)

There are varying levels of depression, and many of us will have experienced feelings and anxieties that could be a form of depression. A diagnosis of depression could be determined as mild, moderate or severe. This indicates the impact of the symptoms on you and your daily life as well as the kinds of treatment that you might need. For some people, changes in seasons can cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

For many, admitting that depression is something you have is really hard.  There is still a stigma attached to it. This is the reason so many people wear their mask every day. One sufferer of depression, Andy Baddeley, has written about his experiences.  Baddeley is a two-time Olympian and Britain’s number one 1,500m runner. The link to his blog post can be found HERE.

Iain Portfolio-26

Figure 2: Sutherst. Iain. 2017

I really enjoyed getting to know Iain during this session.  We talked about things he enjoys, such as acting, as well as things that have caused him issues in the past.  IBS and constant pain have been part of his life for a long time now.  He does not reveal these in his everyday life, using his mask to hide behind. People do not want to hear how a person is in pain all the time.  Many in society are very self-centred and are only interested in things that affect them directly.  This is especially true when they see other people only as the masks they wear and not the real person behind the mask.

Acting allows us to put on another mask and be a different person.  It helps us to forget what is going on in the background and acts as a kind of therapy for the condition.  After we shot the project images, we had some fun with portfolio images that will help advertise and promote his acting career.

I am grateful to Iain for coming forward and taking part in the project.

To find resources to cope with issues of depression, please visit the MIND Website.  You can also help fund their ongoing support by clicking DONATE.

Figures 3 and 4: Sutherst. Iain. 2017

REFERENCES (2017). Depression | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Oct. 2017].

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