What can a jar of sweets tell us about Mental Health?

What can a jar of sweets tell us about Mental Health?
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash

I recently saw an experiment on Social Media from Dr Julie Smith that highlights how prevalent poor mental health exists within our social circles.

Statistics show that one in four of us will suffer or know someone who suffers, but this experiment brings this statistic to life and makes it clear how much mental health is affecting our society.

The Experiment

Three jars of marshmallows, one jar of Skittles, a table, and an idea that could change how we see mental health in our everyday lives. 

This experiment can be easily reproduced, so much so that I did it in my lunchtime today. There are four jars of sweets - three filled with white marshmallows and one with coloured Skittles. The white marshmallows represented individuals with good mental health, while the coloured Skittles represented those with mental health issues. I poured these sweets onto my table, mixing them into a single pile representing our community.

Then, I randomly selected a handful of sweets and divided them into three smaller piles, each symbolising a different social circle: family, friends, and work colleagues. As I looked at these piles, the coloured sweets were subtly mixed in with the marshmallows. They were fewer, yes, but significantly present.

The Message

When I first watched the video, the message hit home, similar to doing it myself. It's a reminder of how even though when we struggle with mental health, we feel alone, the reality is we don't need to look too far to find someone in our multiple social circles also suffering. Some were silently struggling in each pile - each aspect of our lives. These coloured Skittles, seemingly few but impactful, represented people I may know, people you know, maybe even you or me. They blended in, yet their experiences were fundamentally different.

Mental Health is Everywhere

The reality is that mental health issues don't discriminate. They are present in every social circle, often hidden in plain sight and usually closer than we think. The coloured sweets in my experiment were outnumbered but undeniably there. 


Friends who had confided their struggles, family members who had fought their battles quietly, and colleagues who had smiled through their pain. This experiment was for them – and all of us. It reminds us to look closer, listen attentively, and offer support without judgment - because we don't know people's struggles.

Final Thoughts

The experiment is a fantastic visual to show how mental health is around us. Mental health, like the coloured sweets, might not always be apparent, but it is always significant. 

Let's not overlook those who might be suffering in silence. Let's be there for each other, in every pile of sweets, in every walk of life.

Remember, every sweet counts. Every person matters.

Please, if you have 60 seconds, watch the video that inspired this post.