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Mental health campaigners with print on the mind

Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, according to mental health charity, Mind. Two UK organisations have turned to print in a bid to generate more conversation around mental health issues as well as raise money and awareness.

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Get the Boys a Lift uses printed merchandise to raise funds for mental health organisations and its own drop-in centre. Image: Angharad Thomas Photography

Founded in 2016, not-for-profit community interest organisation, Get the Boys a Lift, began when Gareth Owens decided to hitch hike to raise awareness for mental health, playing on the idea that you don’t need to know someone to give them a lift.

Alongside this, he decided to make some home-made t-shirts to raise funds and the Pembrokeshire-based organisation has since grown to achieve £12,000 worth of funding to local and national mental health causes and projects.

Get the Boys a Lift has now taken on its own premises in Haverfordwest which provides a place for those in need to access support through drop in days and by being part of a supportive community environment.

These boys helped me so much throughout my last few sessions, even without them knowing it. I knew I was part of something that was helping people in similar situations to me

Local print company, Old Eltons was approached by Get the Boys a Lift to help print its merchandise as demand grew. Having suffered from mental ill-health himself, owner Jack Merrony explains how the project helped him in more than one way.

He says: “I’d had a rough couple of months of counselling so my head wasn’t in the best place. These boys helped me so much throughout my last few sessions, even without them knowing it. I knew I was part of something that was helping people in similar situations to me. A year on now and Gaz is a great friend and a great customer.”

Last year, London-based Kyle Stanger launched his clothing brand, Boys Get Sad Too, having experienced friends and family struggle with mental ill-health throughout his life.

Stanger explains how the company began as a hobby through selling t-shirts to friends and family with the intention to simply spark conversation, however the idea has now grown into a business he runs full time.

Kyle Stanger founded Boys Get Sad Too after realising how common male mental health problems were, yet not spoken about enough

“Print has opened up doors that I couldn’t even imagine and the talented people that now make our clothes are such an integral part of the brand – without print, we simply wouldn’t exist,” Stanger explains, adding: “The fact that I can take an idea and turn it into a tangible product is amazing and print has allowed me to do this.

“I frequently get messages from people saying they saw one of our tees with the message on and it made them feel a little bit less alone. It has helped to open up so much conversation. I think people respond positively to fashion as essentially, it is a part of everyday life and it’s unavoidable. It allows you to make a statement – you’d wear a t-shirt for your favourite band or football club, so why not one showing you support others?”

Print has opened up doors that I couldn’t even imagine and the talented people that now make our clothes are such an integral part of the brand – without print, we simply wouldn’t exist

Having used various printers in the past, Stanger experienced issues in production and poor-quality of end products. “When you put your trust in a company you definitely need consistency and I wasn’t getting that before,” he says.

Having come across Merch Stall on Instagram, Stanger made the switch and describes it as having “levelled my business up”. He adds: “quality is so important and they always do such a great job in taking my ideas and turning them into a reality.”

Joe Tilston, owner of Merch Stall comments: “At Merch Stall, we run a good ol’ four screen manual press. Our positioning and focus to date was born out of involvement with the music scene in the UK, where we naturally found ourselves cutting our teeth making t-shirts for bands. With the recent explosion in popularity of independent clothing labels, naturally we found ourselves working for those circles quite quickly.

Boys Get Sad Too aims to spark conversation through though provoking design

“We get a lot of first-time buyers and people with ideas they want to make real, that they don’t know how to realise. It’s important to us, that we give people the opportunity to learn and develop with us. We all came from a place of not knowing what went into making a brand or designing great apparel at some point, so we like to make everyone comfortable and feel like they are not going to get a funny look if they don’t know what they are doing.”

Merch Stall also operates as sustainably as possible and uses a water-based alternative to plastisol for Boys Get Sad Too. Tilston describes this as a great material to work with, having used plastisol for some time.

According to Grand View Research, the global printed textile market is expected to witness steady growth with increasing demand for printed fabrics in the fashion industry expected to add to this growth.

With the market’s growth on a continued rise, companies such as Get The Boys a Lift and Boys Get Sad Too demonstrate the accessibility and limitless nature of this print medium.

If you have any news, please email carys@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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