LIFESTYLE

These Temporary Tattoos Are Helping People To Stop Self Harming

'You are worth it.'

08/05/2017 08:01 BST

A psychology student from London is selling temporary tattoos and stickers online to help people with mental illness, and stop them from self-harming.

Francesca Timbers, first decided to create her products after she suffered with depression and anxiety in 2011, her final year of university.

Timbers told HuffPost UK: “What I felt in that moment; helpless, trapped, like I was in a burning building, and this was the only way out. This is something many people have felt at some point in their lives, but considering so many people experience it, we hear so little about it.”

Etsy

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May), Timbers has spoken about starting her brand after being inspired by her own experiences: “Sometimes it is just a struggle to get up in the morning, let alone run a business. It has definitely been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, balancing the two,” she said.

The non-permanent tattoos are designed to encourage people to have little moments of motivation throughout the day, using messages such as ‘believe, achieve’, ‘calm’, ‘I am enough’ and ‘breathe’ to maintain a positive outlook and halt self-destructive behaviour. 

The self-reward care stickers to pin on clothes rather than put on your skin, read: ‘I didn’t bottle it up’; ‘I remembered to breathe’; ‘I asked for help’; ‘took the time to recharge’; and ‘I survived a panic attack’.

Timbers has already sold 14,000 of her products and sent them to 60 countries worldwide via her Etsy shop.

She said that being able to do this has helped her overcome her own battles. “I feel less alone in the experience, and connected with other people like myself,” she explained. 

Etsy

Six years ago, when Timbers was about to graduate from the University of London, she started getting headaches on the left side of her head: “Being a typical overworked student, I thought nothing of them, took some painkillers and got on with my studies.” 

About three months later she began to lose sight in her left eye, and then her right eye, and was diagnosed with optic neuritis, a precursor to multiple sclerosis.

Timbers said: “This diagnosis was the trigger point. At my lowest, I lay in a hospital bed, attempting to Google suicide methods on a phone that I couldn’t even read. My eyes hurt so bad.”

It was after this that Timbers decided to channel her energies into doing something positive, and after creating the products for herself, was inundated with requests from other people, mainly women.

One customer, Ari, reviewed the product, saying: “Thank you for helping me relive the fun times of childhood with temporary tattoos and helping me ease my mental illness with a gentle reminder to do my best.”

The latest statistics from NHS Digital, revealed that in the UK, young women are the most affected by common mental health issues, with one quarter (26%) of 16- to 24-year-old women admitting to having self-harmed.

According to research from Etsy, 26% of UK Etsy sellers said that running their own Etsy business was either important or very important in helping them work around their own mental health conditions.

Not only that but 63% of UK Etsy sellers stated their motivation for starting a business was creativity with many also finding it had a positive impact on their mental wellness.

Useful websites and helplines:
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk
Useful websites and helplines:
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk