Shanghai Mental Health Center hosts art exhibition for eating disorders

Shanghai Mental Health Center (SMHC) at 600 South Wanping Road is well known for its viral campaigns in raising awareness of mental health and illnesses such as the “mental health mooncakes” for Mid-Autumn Festival. This year, it has brought back its “No 600 Gallery” initiative by hosting an art exhibition to raise awareness of eating disorders. The exhibition will be hosted at the hospital from 1 July to the end of September.

The artwork featured in the exhibition, titled “Love, Food and Life”, mostly comes from two sources. One part is art made by patients who were treated for eating disorders at the Center and their families, the other includes works submitted by artists who suffer or have suffered from eating disorders. The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, collages, writings and craft items illustrating the experience of suffering from eating disorders. The artworks are displayed against pink and blue backdrops representing stronger and calmer emotions. Visitors can leave a message on the pieces of paper or a whiteboard at the end of the exhibition.

Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa (food restriction), binge eating disorder (frequent and recurrent binge eating), bulimia nervosa (binge eating followed by purging or fasting) and more. It is beyond having a fear or fixation on food but is also about the self and the body. Eating disorders are often accompanied by physical and social disorders. With a 5-20% fatality rate, anorexia is considered the deadliest mental illness.

The “No 600 Gallery” project was first introduced in 2019 by SMHC and the current one is its 7th exhibition, after exhibits about bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s. Like the exhibitions before it, “Love, Food and Life” aims to raise awareness of the disorders as well as push for more inclusive beauty standards other than thin equals beauty.

Like many campaigns by SMHC, the exhibition aims to demystify and alleviate stagnation around these mental disorders. It seems to be working as the topic “warm message by security guard at 600 Wanping Road (S) new exhibition” gained over 26.13 million views on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.


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