Pat Mc Keown is a UCD student who founded Cashface with the aim of changing the face of mental health with a campaign based around a facial expression, which aims to encourage people have #NothingToHide when it comes to struggles with mental illness.
Cashface approaches a very serious topic in an open, light-hearted manner.
Mental Health Ireland defines mental illness as the experiencing of severe and distressing psychological symptoms to the extent that normal functioning is seriously impaired.
Pat began raising awareness through Cashface in 2014. The initial premise behind Cashface was a simple one. Pat encouraged his friends and family to change their social media profile pictures to a photo of themselves doing the ‘cashface’ (as modelled perfectly by the Notorious Conor McGregor alongside Pat above), with the overlay #NothingToHide.
The aim of this was to raise awareness for mental health issues and to popularise Cashface’s philosophy of having nothing to hide.
It worked. People began asking Pat about the Cashface pose and what it meant, and Pat was encouraged by the positive feedback the campaign received.
According to a study conducted in October 2013, by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), as many as one in five Irish youths were suffering from mental illness. This suggested that Irish youths may have higher rates of mental illness than their European counterparts.
Fast forward to 2015, and whilst Cashface still encourages social media users to change their profile picture, this year is also about Cashface stories, personal mental health stories with a photo of the individual doing Cashface attached. Pat himself began the trend by writing a personal, moving piece about his own struggles with mental health, and was overwhelmed with the feedback and support it garnered.
February is set to be a big month for Cashface. What can you as a member of the public do to help?
You could start by changing your profile picture to one of yourself doing Cashface with the overlay #NothingToHide for February. If you have a Cashface story you would like to share get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or Campus.ie . Or you can simply start sharing the philosophy of having #NothingToHide when it comes to mental health issues.
Keep an eye on Campus.ie for Pat’s incredibly honest story about his own struggles with mental illness.