Modelling and mental illness are two topics distinct from one another and are rarely used in the same sentence. That was until model and mental health activist Jonathan Mourice started using his modelling platform to advocate for mental health awareness.
The 19-year-old model from Rundu is contributing to a much-needed movement to help those who suffer from mental illness.
“As a pageant model, I use this platform to reach out to the youth, campaigning and spreading awareness on mental issues as we are the most-affected. Working with my peers has been one of my greatest passions for I believe in cognitive psychology,” he told VIBEZ!
Growing up in a society that does not believe in psychology, Mourice said it played a huge role in his journey as a mental health activist.
“Most of the problems we are facing today, such as gender-based violence, alcohol abuse, depression and anxiety, bipolar disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as well as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) are all results of mental ill-health.”
“This is something that we don’t talk about every day, but it really needs our attention as they have a huge impact in our lives because we do not educate the youth much on mental health, and this may be long term, which is why I advocate for mental health to better our future and create a safe environment for everyone,” he explained.
The fashion industry and beauty pageantry are often portrayed as a world of extravagance, glitz and glamour as well as endless excitement. However, Mourice believes the fast-paced, heavily watched, high-stakes nature of the fashion world may be a contributing cause of the higher-than-average mental health issues associated with the industry.
Doing his part in fighting this scourge in his community, Mourice is part of the team organising the annual Mr and Miss Face of Kavango to be held later this year, and he will be offering psychological support to the models.
“My task will be to prepare them emotionally, and help them to be better models by supporting them mentally,” he said.
The model further shared some insights on why individuals working within the fashion industry can be particularly at high risk of developing mental health issues.
“There is high pressure to be original and innovative, and to work excessive hours. The constant pressure of the industry to come up with ‘the next big thing’, the cult of youth, and culture of working around the clock and therefore not getting enough rest, puts mental health at risk,” he stressed.
Mourice is thus calling upon the government to invest more in activities that can maintain people’s mental health, “especially now that we are all at risk of the strain that the (Covid-19) pandemic has brought upon us,” he said.
Former Miss Namibia Selma Kamanya recently also spoke about mental health awareness.
The beauty queen shared her experience in a video clip that went viral on social media, in which she encourages people to be open and share their ordeals.
Fight mental illness… Model and mental health activist Jonathan Mourice. Photo: Contributed