UK (Edinburgh Napier University) Brother’s memory inspires Courtney
Courtney Whyte was in the penultimate year of her Interior and Spatial Design course when her elder brother Sean took his own life in 2021, shattering life as she had known it. Overwhelmed by grief, she initially struggled to continue with her studies. However, her determination and the strength of her wish to honour her brother’s memory ultimately enabled Courtney to not only complete her course, but also design a creative project reflecting on the stigma around men’s mental health.
Courtney took inspiration from her relationship with her brother to create Sean’s House, a non-clinical space designed to encourage young men to speak openly around mental health challenges. She used images of Sean, reflective quotes and various visuals to demonstrate her vision for the space and how it would create a peaceful, open environment for facilitating conversation around mental health.
Courtney’s design was also informed by Chris’s House, a Wishaw-based mental health crisis charity which was set up by the mother of Chris Rowan, another young man who died by suicide, and which provided immense support to Courtney following her brother’s death.
The project not only provided Courtney with an outlet for some of her grief but also gave her the opportunity to share memories of her brother, with whom she shared a close relationship. She hopes that Sean’s House will increase understanding around the ongoing obstacles to addressing men’s mental health issues.
Courtney said: ‘The project helped me both raise awareness and feel like I was making a difference, by helping other men who were suffering to speak out”.
Edinburgh Napier University provided invaluable support to Courtney to make it possible for her to finish the degree she’d worked so hard for. She consulted the university’s trained Mental Health Team, which was able to provide specialised assistance, and she credits their help with enabling her to stay at university. Courtney has since encouraged others to access the team’s services, particularly emphasising their willingness to accommodate those that need them.