Artist perfectly captures how mental illness feels with sketches of houses

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe
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When it comes to emotions, words can’t always sum up how a person is feeling.

Instead, it can take a relatably witty illustration or well-observed sketch to convey what someone is really thinking, or to capture a general mood, such as the backlash against Instagram’s cult of perfection.

And this was the thinking behind artist Federico Babina’s latest project, in which he depicts common mental illnesses and disorders as architecture.

The project, aptly named Archiatric, encompasses 16 mental health issues drawn in the shape of various houses, all of which are coloured in black and grey and set against a pale backdrop.

Speaking to, Babina said he used images of houses to reflect our mental health in order to “make an abstract exercise of translation from one language to another, from the architecture of the mind to an illustrated architecture”.

In the project, anxiety (below) is shown as a closed-off house being squeezed around the middle by a loop of heavy chains, with barbed-wire-like squiggles coming out of its top.

In contrast, depression is shown as a melting house that appears to be drowning within itself, while OCD is a neat and orderly structure of alternating black and white patterns.

The Spanish artist, who lives in Barcelona and is well-known for his work featuring architecture-inspired pieces, also explained to how he hoped the project would help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, which affects one in four people in the UK every year.

“It belongs to our lives and we must not stigmatise it,” he said.

“I don't want to put a romantic aura around the discomfort and suffering of mental illness but rather to make a reflection on the prejudices and negative stigma with which the pathologies of the mind are often observed.”

Babina released the project as a video on his YouTube page last week, where it has had almost 110,000 views (at the time of writing).

Watching the minute and a half clip, in which each house is destroyed to portray one of the 16 illnesses, makes for dark but vital viewing.

However, it also helps continue to open up the conversation around mental health, and provides a necessary and relatable insight into what it is like living with one or more of the 16 illnesses.

“Architecture and the spaces that we live in influence our behavior and psychopathology,” Babina added.

“In the same way, the design of spaces is certainly influenced by large and small physical and mental disease or disorders of its creators.”

You can watch the full video clip below and see more of Babina’s work on his website here.

If you, or anyone you know, needs support or further information on mental health, head to the NHS or Mind.