When Sam Booker, 33, moved away from home to go to university, she and her younger sister Trudy began the ‘card game’. There was only one rule: send each other excellent cards as often as possible. Whether the messages were funny, supportive, thoughtful or ridiculous, receiving a card in the post, says Sam, “will ALWAYS make you feel a little bit better than however you were feeling just moments before. Always”.
Years later, the son of Sam’s close friend attempted suicide. As a psychologist, she knew what she could do to support her friend practically. “I asked how she was sleeping,” she says. “I checked on the level of care and treatment he was being given. I said I was sorry and asked if there was anything I can do.” But she also wanted to send a card – at which point she realised that she had never seen a card about mental illness.
Shortly after, Sam herself was hospitalised with mental health issues. During her stay on a psychiatric ward, she noticed that almost none of the other patients on the ward had been sent cards or flowers.
Clearly, there was a gap in the market. And so Sam recruited Trudy – by now a graphic designer – to help fill it. Today, the Booker sisters create and sell mental health support cards from their online shop, to help people show support for loved ones struggling with mental illness.
At the moment, the cards focus on anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, and each card comes with a pamphlet suggesting how to support someone struggling with a mental health problem.
“Each of the cards created is supportive and appropriate to inspire hope and encourage recovery from mental illness,” reads the Hope Street website.
Crucially, the sisters don’t shy away from using humour in their cards – helping to break the sense of taboo around mental illness. As Sam points out, you can readily buy cancer-related greetings cards that use dark or silly humour; why not mental health, too?
The sisters say that they hope they will “provide an avenue for loved ones to express their support, love and concern in an appropriate, empathetic and hopeful way”.
The cards are made in Australia, but can be shipped all around the world. You can view the full range here.