New magazine looks at mental health

A new magazine about mental health, Anxy, is currently running a Kickstarter to fund its second issue. The name is so odd that it takes a moment to reckon with it — but in a world of short and frivolous names for apps and startup, Anxy feels weighted with meaning.

I asked Anxy Editor-in-Chief Bobbie Johnson — who was a founder of Matter Magazine, and went on to work for Medium after their acquisition of Matter, so no stranger to digital publishing — why print was the right format.

"I love the internet, but one of the things you tend to lose thanks to the context-flattening meat tenderizer of the web is the idea of packaging — stories and ideas that are sequenced to create particular effects, or pieces that are juxtaposed to help cast light on each other as well as provide. That intimacy, that quality of wholeness, is something we think is important when you’re having complex conversations about people’s mental health."

They do publish some pieces online, like this interview with Margaret Atwood, or this essay by Seattle writer Ijeoma Olou, both in their first issue, with the theme of Anger.

It's easy to imagine a magazine that focuses on mental health reading like a fitness magazine, with lists and exercises, and a load of top-down advice. But, Johnson says, "a magazine about fitness is based on the underlying social agreement that being fit is good. Talking about mental health, though, is a much trickier proposition. It’s still stigmatized to a large extent — or, even when it’s spoken out loud, it’s easily dismissed as whining, or typical intergenerational bullshit. Anxy isn't self-help, ten steps to success kind of stuff; it’s something reflective, that you can be proud to be seen with, something that can be a conversation starter, not a todo-list creator."

The second issue, if the Kickstarter is successful (they're about 75% of the way there at this writing), will focus on Work. The magazine is ad free, so Kickstarter is how they fund the printing and distribution of the magazine.

It seems like a great idea, but there are so many potential traps in a magazine dealing with mental health. "We're doing it because we didn't see anyone else stepping up," Johnson says. "We're asking people to open a door on their lives."

Given the solitary and life of writers, seeing work dedicated to the topic of mental health seems like a fantastic idea. Their Kickstarter ends in six days, so grab a copy quick if you think this might be interesting to you.