Creator Laura Weiss hopes her pinback buttons can spark conversations and break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.
When Lauren Weiss took control of her mental health and began taking medication for bipolar disorder, she knew that she wanted to be an advocate for mental illness. Weiss studies advertising at Miami Ad School in New York City, so it was natural that she searched for a quick, engaging visual cue to open conversations about her condition.
Weiss designed pinback buttons depicting common psychiatric medications, like Xanax and lithium. Another button proclaims “Wear Your Meds,” summing up the mission of her project. Weiss told Fast Company that the buttons, which started as a class project, are a way to spark a conversation around mental health.
“[It’s a] symbol that represents the story you want to tell, and a gateway into your personal story,” she said. “I know that not everybody wants to be an activist about mental health. With something like the buttons, I think it’s a little more accessible for people who maybe are open to sharing their story, but don’t want to be shouting about it on the streets. They can have this button, and it’s an easy way for people to see it and maybe ask about it.”
Weiss said that she doesn’t expect everyone to be comfortable broadcasting what medications they are on. Some people have said to her that they are afraid they would be fired or otherwise discriminated against if they were open about their mental health condition and the medications that they are taking.
However, she said the buttons allow people who are interested in sharing their story to help break down stigma.
“People like me who are talking about this from a position of privilege, in a community where we can feel safe talking about it, are the people who ultimately have to do the heavy lifting and have to do the work around this in order for that stigma to start to be lifted for people in communities that don’t feel comfortable talking about it right now,” she said.
Weiss is now selling the buttons online, with proceeds to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“When you ‘wear your heart on your sleeve,’ it means you’re being honest, open, and vulnerable. When you wear your meds on your sleeve, you’re doing the same,” her website reads.
Weiss’ buttons depict 14 different pills commonly used for treating mental health conditions: Zoloft, Lithium, Adderall, Ativan, Klonopin, Desyrel, Lexapro, Lamictal, Effexor, Cymbalta, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Xanax, and Prozac.