Toby Allen's Real Monsters

One Artist is Raising Mental Health Awareness by Drawing Medical Conditions as Monsters

A UK-based illustrator is creating a series of drawings that aim to raise mental health awareness by depicting different disorders and conditions as monsters.

Toby Allen’s Real Monsters series is a collection of 16 illustrations (with another eight in the pipeline) that tackle everything from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Toby Allen's Real Monsters

Toby Allen's Real Monsters

Allen told Mashable;

“The idea for the project came from dealing with my own anxiety,” . I found that drawing my worries and fears as little monsters would help me think about them differently and make my anxiety feel more manageable. I imagined that my anxiety could be overcome by giving it a physical from, giving it a visible weakness that I could learn to exploit.”




After receiving a positive response online, Allen decided to tackle a variety of other conditions as part of a larger project.

“I also wanted to try and educate people about mental illness and maybe even reduce the stigma surrounding it, through helping viewers to understand what it’s like to have one of these conditions,”

“I begin each monster design by researching the condition or disorder extensively, often relying on real life case studies or first person stories to get a better understanding of the illness I intend to draw,” continued Allen. “Of course each person’s experience with a mental illness will differ, so I try to create something that many people will find familiar.”



Allen said he regularly receives emails from people who thank him for creating the work.

“I have received so many wonderful messages from people who live with one or many of the disorders I have drawn, each telling me how much the work means to them and how it has helped them to think about their condition in a different or more positive way,” he said. “Of course, due to the sensitive subject matter, I have also received some negative feedback but that’s to be expected and I respect people’s opinions on the work.”




You can see more of Real Monsters, as well as examples of Allen’s other work, on his website If you need help with any mental health issues, contact BetterHelp therapy

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  1. A very inspired project and great idea to draw something as complex and elusive as mental disorders and thus make them flesh, contain them, even in a drawing, and maybe they feel less overwhelming and scary, less change-shifting and more manageable as a result. I recognise a few as my own.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my God. I have Bipolar and am a total nerd and I absolutely LOVE your drawing!!! I looks like a Pokemon. You are doing fantastic work. Thank you for raising awareness and for giving us a little chuckle along the way. You are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m bipolar, so I appreciate seeing a graphic representation of my “monster.” Thanks for all the good you do throughout the year. I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, prosperous 2016!


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