Here's a mysterious-looking critter. Its name is Anxiety.
It looks like some sort of pest that'd hide out in the corners of your house and pop out whenever it wanted, causing you to feel a bit uneasy. You know, a little bit how anxiety can work in real life.
Just wait until you meet Depression.
It's "like a slump in fabric form," says creator Emily Monaghan.
Indeed, it is.
These critters are part of The Real Monsters project, and they're getting people to talk about mental health. Because, let's be real, it's hard to talk about.
Based on the 2013 digital series by Toby Allen, The Real Monsters is exploring mental health conditions through unique and thoughtful character designs — both digitally and, now, thanks to Monaghan, in soft, huggable form.
It poses an interesting question: What if mental health conditions were like visible monsters that hung around humans every day?
It'd probably make mental health easier to talk about.
Through characters, conditions like avoidant personality disorder...
...can now be more approachable and comfortable to talk about.
And that's exactly what Toby and Emily hope to achieve by tackling the stigma surrounding mental health.
Emily's launched a Kickstarter to help bring the critters to people all over the place. They're a great conversation starter.
"Whenever I showed the prototypes to friends, family or students, it would always prompt people to talk about their own experiences with mental illness - their own, or members of their family," she writes.
Imagine how productive the plush toys would be in a classroom setting or to help family members better understand a loved one's mental health condition.
So far there are four monsters available: Anxiety, Depression, Avoidant Personality Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. But Toby has designed about 20 monsters, including Bipolar, Selective Mutism, PTSD, and more. You can help decide the next round of plush toys to be created through the Kickstarter page.
"I hope that together, we can play a small part in reducing the stigma, by making invisible conditions a bit more visible."
And huggable, too. The Real Monsters are unique, smart, and starting very important conversations. A big step in the right direction!