Mental health zine Swirl’s visually alluring take on self-help guides

The booklet has been conceived and written by mental health nurse Andy Walton, with design by Studio Moross and collage-style illustrations by Nate Kitch

Society has never been more anxious. Or rather, we have never been as open about our struggles with mental health as we are today. In the UK alone, there are currently more than 10 million people suffering from anxiety. As mental health has become less of a taboo subject, discussions around it have also spawned a huge number of resources and guides ranging from medical journals and blogs to self-help books.

While the wealth of advice available to us now certainly can’t be seen as a bad thing, it doesn’t come as a surprise that some people find the sheer amount of information on offer overwhelming. Community mental health nurse Andy Walton is hoping to tackle this with the launch of a new zine called Swirl, which offers a more concise – and aesthetically pleasing – alternative to generic, stock photography-covered leaflets and lengthy self-help guides.

Walton came up with the idea for the zine while he was in the process of moving house. “I was trying to organise a big box full of leaflets, magazine articles, journals and self-help books. I wanted to bring all the important stuff together so it was accessible, simple and saved some space – so I did. And then I thought, why not make it look good?”

Swirl has been written by Walton – who also suffers from anxiety – and US-based blogger Gina Yu, with consultation from various clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, occupational therapists and mental health advocates. Walton and Yu incorporated a conversational tone of voice and a handwritten typeface to help make the information more accessible. “We worked on crafting the wording for around nine months to ensure we did our best to create something that would gently, beautifully pull people through the moments that feel too heavy, too loud and too much,” says Walton.

The booklet itself aims to celebrate the spectrum of emotions involved with mental health. Designed by Studio Moross, it features collage-style illustrations of different body parts and abstract shapes created by Nate Kitch to explain different concepts and ideas. “The practical suggestions within the guide bring together a holistic approach to overcoming overthinking, and I felt [Kitch’s] style worked well to reflect the process of going through the afflictions to find peace in the here and now,” says Walton.

Swirl costs £6, and is available from here