A new book of photographs challenges the stigma around mental health and captures the light and shade in the lives of Quail’s brother Justin and his girlfriend, Jackie

My brother, Justin, is not a straightforward person,” says photographer Louis Quail, “His otherness is very apparent. I have seen people recoil from him on the bus.” Justin was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 20. Now 57, his adult life has been defined to a great degree by his condition and by people’s reactions to it, whether the public, the authorities or his doctors. “I wanted to challenge the stigma of mental illness,” says Louis, “and one way to do that is to show the light and shade in his life, the small details as well as the dramas.”

Big Brother is a moving, sometimes disturbing and often very funny ode to his schizophrenic sibling, whose fertile creative imagination and extraordinary resilience are evident throughout. It begins with a series of Justin’s watercolours and pencil sketches of birds as well as a handwritten inventory of the 56 species that he observed as a 14-year-old birdwatcher over two days in May 1973. The sense of adolescent curiosity bordering on obsession is...


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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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