STUDENTS at a Winchester college have joined forces with Southampton University to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Eighteen textile design students at Peter Symonds put together their own interpretation of mental health issues using textiles and art in a joint collaborative enterprise with the Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG), part of the University of Southampton.

SoNG invited the students to use mental health issues as creative inspiration for art including garments, sculptures and paintings.

The work formed part of the ‘Changing Minds’ project, which raises awareness and dispels myths and stigma surrounding mental health and neuro-degenerative diseases in an unusual way.

Presenting in an exhibition, the project enabled students to showcase the work to the Southampton neuroscience team as well as friends, parents and teaching staff.

Dr Shmma Quraishe, research fellow at the university, said: “Mental health problems and neurodegenerative diseases touch the lives of so many people.

“Despite this, the biological mechanisms that underlie these conditions are poorly understood by many. The work the students have produced is fantastic and offers us a unique way to get people to talk about and understand mental health.”

Each student selected a different neurological condition, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Stroke, Epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis.

Textiles teacher Beki Vaile, who led the project at Peter Symonds College, said: “This is a project where art meets the mind and brain diseases are interpreted by artists through the tangible medium of textiles and art.”

“Many of the artworks are bright and beautiful, challenging the traditional representation of mental illness and encouraging people to think differently. We would like this work to be a step towards a better understanding of these complex conditions.”

Professor Lindy Holden-Dye added: “The students at Peter Symond’s surprise and enchant us with their thoughtful and thought-provoking interpretation of the biological basis of mental health.

“All this work is a step towards addressing the isolation felt by many individuals who struggle to live with the challenge posed by poor mental health.”