EOTT is a mental health project, aspiring to remove the stigma and access to services for young people by changing the conversation. Tired of shock statistics, lecturing and the focus on extremes in mental health communication, EOTT strives to express serious issues in a more relatable way – how they would speak, and check in on one another, peer-to-peer. Through bootleg merch, events and online comms, they aim to start dialogue and raise funds by landing in youth culture through familiarity. The money they raise is donated to the wider community knowing that many mental health issues stem from social circumstances and that societal improvement has a knock-on impact on wellness.

“Currently EOTT is a big Trojan Horse gathering the youth and getting into a place where we've got market power and are making a real change rather than just selling some t-shirts.” - Levvy, EOTT



A conversation with Levvy, Founder of eott and Louise Millar, Seed Strategy Director*

What does community mean to you?

Levvy: For me, it’s the shared purpose and a shared end goal. It's a range or a wider group of people coming together to form something that's bigger than themselves. It's just a load of people that don't know each other and come from all sorts of different backgrounds, but they all care about the same thing and so it binds them together.

In recent years, there’s been an explosion in youth collectives. Why do you think that is and how do you think it reflects the attitudes of your generation?

Levvy: People are fed up and they want to see change. I think social media is so much more prevalent these days and we're so much more visible. We’re seeing that change can be done and you don't have to go to certain places, you don't have to conform to certain rules or regimes, and that's a more inspiring way of looking at it.

Tell us about your community—your reasons to be, how you became established, and why?

Levvy: A large part of why eott exists in the way that it does is due to a tiredness of the pre-existing mental health information or media—it was just boring. I thought ‘I don't want to be spoken to like this’. We want it to sound like it's your friend talking to you, or an older brother or sister, and so that's why it comes across in our tone. With the clothes and the visual arts and events, we want to be presented in a familiar way. It speaks to you in a non-dramatic way and that's really a key value of our design and communication ethos.

You’ve mentioned wanting to communicate mental health in a way that is familiar and resonates with your generation. What did you think was lacking in how it was being communicated elsewhere?

Levvy: I thought what was lacking was just the case of realism. In some sense, it was based on really dramatic stats, which obviously are true, but I just felt like we've all seen those classic Tumblr posts saying “here's 10 tips for a better mind”, when it's not that simple. We wanted it to be a bit more thought provoking and wanted to aid people in finding their own answer.

eott exists because we ourselves are troubled and have grown up in troubled homes and we have seen it. It comes from a place of realism, and something we tried to do recently is to tackle heavier subjects head on.

How do you use fashion as a tool for mental health advocacy? And what roles do visual elements play in your message?

Levvy: Using things that people already know about is like a trojan horse as it uses something that people are familiar with, and, of course, with ‘UKG’—everyone loves garage. So it’s a way of luring people in almost and familiarising them. In the physical form of wearing something, it's like a football team where you represent your chosen team. I think again it comes back to the word of community and this physical embodiment.

In a landscape dominated by major mental health media, what challenges have you faced in establishing your brand and how do you differentiate yourself from existing narratives without undermining their importance?

Levvy: I think there's so much rubbish work on it. And some of them were just boring or just heard before or just saying things in the same tones. eott is largely inspired by what it doesn't want to be, and although it can be hard to know what to do, over the years it has definitely become more and more apparent how we don't want to be.

I think one of the challenges I have is social media—it's the whole comparative culture of it. It can easily feel like you're not doing enough or you’re falling behind a little bit. The want or desire for your message to have power and to be effective has gotten me down a lot before.

How, from a comparative perspective, would you describe the attitudinal differences between your generation compared to the older generation?

Levvy: Is there a difference? It's hard to say to be honest, because I wasn't there. Just relative to my parents and my siblings, who are both older, and older people I work with—they certainly give me the affirmation that our generation is a lot better and have their heads a lot more screwed on.

So, would you say there's a bigger need for mental health support now than there was before or is this simply being more openly tackled and acknowledged?

Levvy: I would probably say the second one. People are more openly talking about it, and I think that's down to greater media and social media, and there's more portrayals or depictions of positive attitudes towards mental health. I also feel like more people are out there documenting them and championing mental health.

But, I think in some ways, I would agree that there's heightened anxiety issues or self-esteem issues. There are more and more things in the system that say what you should be like, that your stomach should look like this, your tan should be this good, etcetera.

Your group is not a traditional charity but operates with a charity focus. Can you elaborate on how you raise your funds, how this contributes to mental health causes, and how you choose specific causes?

Levvy: We raise funds through the sale of our clothes and a portion of the profits goes to charity. Usually it's £5 from each item, because it's just nice to know how much you're actually donating.

We normally pick food banks just because that's always been a really nice and wholesome thing to do, mainly because we physically see it going to action, and a big thing for us is actually seeing where it goes. So, generally, we kind of try and do more grassroots ones, where we can have a much closer level of dialogue throughout the whole project.

Have you worked for many brands? What were the partnerships like? And what’s your dream partnership?

Levvy: We did KeepHush—we did a t-shirt that said “Don’t KeepHush”. And Pirate Studios, where we did a fundraising stream that tried to break the record for the biggest back-to-back ever. We didn’t get it, but it was great fun. UKF—we did a collaboration over a hoodie. That was really cool and raised some good money.

I did think of a dream partnership and it would be the government or councils, to make some actual and situational change. I like the idea of putting mental health education in schools.

Let's look into the future, because your future is clearly bright. What legacy do you hope to leave with eott?

Levvy: I think for the people that enjoy eott, I just hope that they grow up and teach their kids different lessons that they were taught by their parents, especially when it comes to mental health, therapy, and sexual health and sexual relationships, because I think that some of the worst things that happen in the world, like abuse or racism, are products of ill mental health.

A part of legacy for me is reduced suicide rate and reduced need for mental health services and greater deeper conversations with ourselves and the world around us. Like 10,15 20 years from now we want there to be a positive shift.

*This conversation has been condensed and edited but has strived to remain as close to the original word for word version as possible.

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