The poetry of purpose: Maryam Uddin’s journey to Strike Out the Stigma
In response to the mental health crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Uddin started a non-profit organization to raise awareness about mental illness.

In literature, art, and poetry, the search for meaning is infinite. Artists like Maryam Uddin have helped keep such endeavours alive to create meaning beyond the obvious, to paint reality from within the experience of the observer, and to attempt to depict a whole world made of thoughts, emotions, and memories.

Uddin, a first-year psychology student at the University of Toronto Mississauga, specifically used poetry to start her mental health non-profit called Strike Out the Stigma in 2019. Motivated by her love for poetry and psychology, Uddin wanted to create a community that prioritized mental health. She looked at poetry as an outlet that could allow herself and others to express and find themselves through her verses. She has received awards for her work along with acknowledgement from honourable members of the community like the Mayor of Mississauga Bonnie Crombie. 

This young promising artist began writing at the early age of 11 and by the age of 15, she had published her first book The Canary and The Miner. The book is a collection of poems that touch on the struggles and common experiences shared by individuals who suffer from depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. With the launch of her book, she started her first fundraiser for her non-profit called The Canary Fundraiser, where profits collected from the book’s sales were given to charity.

Uddin tells The Medium that she seeks to write “poetry that is intimate and reflective about mental disorders.” Playing with words and rhymes has always come to her naturally, she says. With time, she started exploring rough patches of her own experiences and found that generic language couldn’t encapsulate what she was going through. Poetry was there to help her explain the complexities of her personal journey along with the sentiments she feels in a way that enabled her to then share her mental health struggles with an audience. 

Through her self-reflection and evaluation of the experiences of people close to her,

Uddin’s writing grew but also spurred within her an interest in psychology. She 

became curious about how she could integrate both of her passions to better understand “the aspects of people [that] they choose not to talk about because of all the stigma around mental health, and […] the human psyche.” In the future, she sees herself working as a clinical psychologist who integrates poetry into her professional practice as a tool for empowerment and support. 

Read Uddin’s poems in The Medium, where she is a regular contributor to the Arts & Entertainment’s column, “Poetry Corner.”

One Comment

  1. —they choose not to talk about because of all the stigma around mental health?’

    Really? They choose not to talk about because we insist there is a stigma around mental health.

    Harold A Maio


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