Drawing inspiration

Dr Emma Hepburn, AKA thepsychologymum, recognised with 'Points of Light' award. Ella Rhodes reports.

A clinical psychologist has been honoured by the Prime Minister’s Office with a Points of Light Award for her illustrations aimed at supporting wellbeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Emma Hepburn, currently working on secondment to support NHS staff in Aberdeen, had always used drawing in her clinical practice and later began sharing her mental health related illustrations on Instagram.

When the pandemic hit the UK, Dr Hepburn shared her efforts under the username thepsychologymum, where she has more than 100,000 followers, to support people with their mental health in lockdown. Her free e-book, How to Stay Calm in a Global Pandemic, includes a selection of her Covid-related illustrations, and her recent A Toolkit for Modern Life: 53 Ways to Look After Your Mind includes some of her psychological wellbeing tips and drawings.

Her drawings emphasise self-compassion, normalise the complex feelings people have felt in response to the pandemic, and give practical tips. Dr Hepburn said she has been inundated with requests to use her drawings – from charities, NHS trusts, colleges and schools – and that many people tell her they have found them useful.

‘I think that we need to start thinking, as a society, about how we look after our mental health and wellbeing proactively not just reactively,’ Dr Hepburn told us. ‘That was one of my motivations. I also wanted to make psychology engaging. There’s a lot of really good stuff out there but my attention span at the moment is so limited… I wanted to make it simple, accessible, engaging, easy to use and memorable. There’s quite a lot of bad information online and on social media and I thought… we need to do something about it and get good evidence-based information out there. But I had absolutely no idea it would turn into this!’

Dr Hepburn was named as a Points of Light award winner in January for her work during the pandemic. The award is given out by the Prime Minister’s office once a day to those making a difference in their communities and more broadly.    

She was invited to talk to Boris Johnson, along with several other Points of Light winners from Scotland, and was ‘video-bombed’ by her children who were later able to tell their friends they got to speak to the Prime Minister. ‘It was not something I expected to happen on a Monday morning!’ 

- Picture by Chris Close.

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber