A Beautiful New Magazine Tackles The Stigma Of Mental Illness

Anxy wants to normalize the conversation about mental illness.

Designer Indhira Rojas wants you to know it’s okay to stop pretending your life is as perfect as your Instagram posts.


Rojas–a successful interaction designer and entrepreneur–also has generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. But, like millions of other Americans with mental illnesses, it wasn’t something she talked about openly in the past. In a gorgeous new magazine called Anxy, she wants to help give people the chance to share their stories about mental illness, and others the chance to see that they’re not alone.

“I found myself pretty isolated, where I wanted to connect with others that might have experienced similar things or might be open to talking about certain levels of vulnerability,” she says. “I found it hard sometimes to bring that topic up . . . that was the spark for the magazine. Feeling like a lot of the times we’re navigating life and making each other feel like everything is okay and sometimes it isn’t.”

The biannual magazine will look more like Kinfolk than Psychology Today. The team chose a print format partly as an outlet for great art and design, and partly to give people a chance to absorb stories at a slower pace than they might online.

“There’s a lot of outpouring on Facebook, on Twitter, a lot of spaces for people to really pour out everything that they’re thinking and feeling,” says Jennifer Maerz, editor-in-chief of the new magazine. “We’re kind of corralling these conversations into something more digestible. I think removing yourself from your computer, or your phone, to absorb these conversations, gives you that extra space where you’re hopefully a little less distracted.”

Each issue will have a theme–loneliness, for example–and a mix of personal narratives, photo essays, other visually driven content, and some reported stories.

[Photo: Photo by Michelle Le]

It’s attempt to help normalize the conversation about mental illness. If nearly half of Americans experience mental illness at some point in their lives, it’s something that we probably should be talking about. Forty percent of people who are mentally ill don’t seek help, in part because of the stigma.


“When I think about my own trajectory, there are tools that I wish I had earlier in life,” says Rojas.

The editors think the magazine will be useful for almost everyone, regardless of the current state of their mental health. “It’s pretty hard to go through life unscathed,” says Maertz. “At some point either you or someone you love or someone you work with is going to be affected by something that’s troubling to them.”

“At the end of the day, it’s really like an unedited version about how all of us navigate life, and what can we learn from each other out of that experience,” says Rojas. “I think that’s something that’s universal.”

Anxy is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."