When Hélène Selam Kleih first called out for submissions to her anthology HIM + HIS, she did not anticipate the overwhelming number of responses she would get. A book of poems, letters, essays, photos and artworks about men and mental health, HIM + HIS came from a deeply personal place.
“It was born out of the struggles of my twin brother, after he was sectioned for psychosis, and what happened to my cousin, when he became one of the 84 men in the UK who commit suicide every week,” she explains. “The lack of support networks for both the person in care and their loved ones, and the shame associated with mental health, led me to look at preventative measures through a new form of expression: creativity and the act of creation.”
By working as a model for the likes of Dior, Estée Lauder and Vivienne Westwood, Hélène funded the anthology herself, starting her own publishing house, Prosperitee Press, and she used her experience as a writer for gal-dem to edit the collection. Since its release last December, she has begun crowdfunding a reprint, has given countless talks on the topic, and is currently launching HIM +HIS: HERE sessions, a bi-weekly event curated by a different man each week to facilitate discussion and expression.
“I like seeing people around me engage in a conversation that is genuine and not forced,” says Kleih, when asked what inspires her. “When I hear that my twin brother reads a submission every night to other men on his ward, and see the messages of support from people who I have never even me, it makes the long nights editing and emailing and connecting people and attending meetings with healthcare professionals all feel worthwhile.”