Stop ‘The Arts’ Stigma For Mental Health

Stop the Arts Stigma for Mental Health

Being creative. It’s innate. Then why is there a stigma surrounding ‘creativity’ and ‘being creative’, especially in relation to mental health? And what impact does that have on access and support from the young person’s perspective?

Recently I found myself exploring this question more, after a conference I hosted exploring the arts and mental health regarding young people. When asking young people about the limitations in accessing the arts, and how it has impacted their mental health; the topic aroused a collective response of stigma surrounding the word ‘creativity’ and ‘arts’ as a whole.

My personal fascination with art and mental health, stems from my own experiences of how cathartic and beneficial art was (and still is) a vital lifeline for my mental health. This has flourished over time to include music, photography and other creative outlets. I even went so far as to explore creativity and mental health in my final year dissertation studying Counselling. 

My panel of inspiring young people, navigated a conversation full to the brim with personal experiences and individual journeys of education. There was a notion that to be ‘creative’, was to place a veil upon the arts, because some (and many, as I find out…) feel that to be creative, is to narrow the arts down to stereotypical subjects, where only the outwardly creative could draw the curtain back on.  

So…What Is Creativity?

When we talk about creativity, an over-arching word which loosely describes, well, pretty much everything a human being is- is stereotypically seen as ‘art, music and drama’ related careers from a young person’s perspective. The dictionary term is ‘the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.’

Inventiveness, can be argued as being an innate part of the human condition. So…’creativity’ is just part of us all. Cognitive processes, expression, the ‘creation’ of anything from thought.

As a young person, we associate this with the stereotypical ‘drama kids’ or the ‘art kids’ from our initial experiences of ‘creativity’ in an educational setting. The creative subjects rounded up as expressive, exclusive and separate entity based on talent. However, there’s creativity in everything we do. Absolutely everything. We need to re-evaluate how we can bring ‘the arts’ into every subject, and every part of our lives.

Identity & Expression

From a young age, we look at our identity and fall into social groups that support us in defining our strongest traits. When I was at school, I associated myself with the ‘arts and drama kids’, where most of the classrooms dedicated to creative subjects clustered into one corridor. 

We see young people utilising these subjects to openly reveal themselves, delve into worlds that are subjective and expressive. What happens to young people who feel they don’t stereotypically ‘fit in’ to these educational subjects? What happens when these young people struggle with their mental health, and feel disassociated with how the ‘arts’ can benefit them?

When I put ‘arts’ into inverted commas, it is to question the ideas surrounding what the arts represents for us as individuals. My personal thought, is that it encompasses creativity in all its forms. From drama and art all the way to technology, engineering and business. 

Where traditional forms of therapy can restrict some who experience mental health problems, the process of art therapy bypasses the speech-language issue with the brain. And not even in the ‘art therapy’ sense, but in every part of our lives. The act of creation, externally captures thought, feeling…emotion. 

As the Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry Report states, “The conundrum that we have found ourselves pondering is why, if there is so much evidence of the efficacy of the arts in health and social care, it is so little appreciated and acted upon.

It embodies everything, and is the most inclusive part of ourselves we should all dip into. Every human being benefits from experiencing this.

We need to change the perceptions of what being ‘creative’ is and what ‘the arts’ encapsulates. 

Creativity and Mental Health

We all have something that is our outlet, catharsis or release for how we feel or how we deal with things in our lives. It could be anything from going for a walk, reading a book, to playing an instrument, or being creative in any way.7571c2f1e886ca3cce636870f987e9f9

A lot of folk think they have to be naturally creative or have some kind of hobby to use art to help them, but this is not the case at all sweetpeas! For example, the rise in folk doing adult colouring books is at an all time high (Who can blame us, huh? They rule). It’s a way for people to wind down, focus on the activity, with the world’s worries melting away for a little while.

I actually did my dissertation on creativity and mental illness, which is a huuuggeee topic so complex to write about (It took a good 40 pages to try and come up with an answer) and I found that a lot of people throughout the ages have used creativity in many forms, and use it as expression which can contribute positively to someone’s mental health (amongst other technical terms/findings I’ll not go into, I may blog about it some time.)

For me, I’ve always loved art. It has been my saviour through bad days- but it also allows me to get into some kinda ‘arty zen’ where I’m so in my flow that I don’t focus on anything but the pen and paper in front of me. Dot work as my style of illustration is the most intricate yet rewarding form of art I do- which has challenged me to practice patience too.

Creativity Works is a wonderful organisation who provide support groups for people who are in the process recovering from mental health problems, as well as helping build confidence and build relationships. Please do check out their work and mission to help others ❤

Any form of creativity or getting into a flow of activity can be so wonderful for us. Sometimes we are so busy thinking, working and being in a mad rush; we tend to overlook how some of our hobbies or down time can be fantastic ways of reducing stress, winding down and helping us through the day.

I’ll perhaps do a tutorial on how to draw mandalas, as that’s my ultimate zen-zone!

Remember you, be gentle with yourself ❤

 

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Pablo Picasso

Aldred’s Artists 5- Kimberley Robinson — Natasha Aldred Illustration

I had the absolute pleasure to be interviewed by my beautiful friend (and fantabulous Illustrator/ Owner of Never Stop Zine), Natasha Aldred. Go check it out! And also go check out what Natasha is up to, a wonderful wonderful person doing such great things ❤

I am humbled to announce that my fifth Aldred Artist feature is with the lovely Kimberly Robinson. Kimberley Robinson is the founder, blogger and artist of the upcoming clothing brand ‘Keep Real‘. I’ve known Kimberley for a few years now and have slowly watched her grow into the strong independent business woman she is today. […]

via Aldred’s Artists 5- Kimberley Robinson — Natasha Aldred Illustration

Keepin’ Up With Kimberley #8

Hello my lovelies! Man, this week has been rad so far! I’ve been having such a wonderful time and there’s so much to be getting on with. Here’s what I’m excited about lately and some updates on my adventures.

I got a beautiful little email this afternoon from Rethink Mental Illnesscropped-wpid-img_20150525_132636.jpg, saying that they are going to publish my post sometime next week! I’ll keep you informed when it is up on their page so you can check it out! It’s all about my experiences with anxiety and how it is possible to come out of the other side. It is possible to break through those barriers you feel you have ❤ I thought to share my experience so it could hopefully help some folk. Plus, I’m training for my fundraising with Rethink- so I’ll be posting up a JustGiving page real soon!

Plus some exciting news concerning my garment and goods brand Keep Real (follow on Twitter and Facebook). Designs are being finalised and selected for the brand new collection. I am so excited about these dotwork illustrations!! I able to tell you that the new collection will be called ‘Brotherhood/Sisterhood’.cropped-wpid-img_20150608_1012111.jpg It’s all about feeling real good, doing good and celebrating the bond we all have with each other. We all stand together. We shouldn’t be tearing our friends down or making other people feel bad because they are on different paths- we should be supporting each other and pushing ourselves and everyone around us to be the best they can be. We are part of a brother/sisterhood and collectively, we all have the ability to stay true to ourselves and be humble in our walks of life. We gotta keep real. 

I will keep you all up to date with my ‘Keepin’ Up With Kimberley’ posts- so have those lovely eyes peeled in your inboxes or wordpress readers!

P.s it would be awesome if you could fill this quick poll in for my blog ❤ Sending you all the love and posi vibes!

 

Keepin’ Up With Kimberley #7

Helloooo lovely people! Sorry for the lack of posts- but it was my 21st birthday yesterday (woo!). So I’ve been out celebrating the last few days and spending time with the family. Very blessed to say the least ❤ wpid-img_20150711_092915.jpg

So apart from that what have I been up to!? I submitted a piece for Time To Change as a ‘StoryShort’ which is a little post about my experiences with mental health. My little post may be up at the tail end of Summer, so I’ll keep you posted on that! I think it’s important to share such things, as even an experience like mine could help someone feel not so alone. Anxiety used to be quite a big part of my life in college, but now I feel more confident than ever. Mindfulness has helped a lot, if you’re feeling a bit stressed or find it hard to calm down your day- check out Frantic World.comIt’s a simple form of meditation that can make you feel wonderful inside and out.

With Keep Real, the designs have kicked into overdrive lately, and it’s been such a wonderful experience seeing the collection come together in quite an unexpected way. My style has definitely come through, I am so pleased with the outcome. I have a lot of planning to do, but the designs are grounded and are 80% ready to go! After I’ve posted this, I will be taking down the online store so I can focus on building up a rad as hell site.

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Also with kimmykeepfit, I have been planning my runs and exercise to really go for it. It’s been quite hard lately with the weather, as well as my celebrations too! But it’s important to be patient and be kind to myself. Incorporating mountain bike riding will also help. I used to go mountain bike riding quite a lot in my early teens, so my Dad has offered to go with me as he’s so passionate about it himself. I love how my family push me to do whatever I set my mind to!

Anyway, that’s it for now! I hope this post finds you well.

Keep Real xxx

Keepin’ Up With Kimberley #6

It’s been a whirlwind of little events this week. Plusss this weather here in the UK has been crazy! I’ve been designing, reading, working, running and organising some cool thaangs. Everything seems to be in full swing, plus I turn 21 next week! Rad!

I’ve started to read Patti Smith’s Just Kids, which is her autobiography (purchase it here).download (1) Now, this book has been on my wish list for a good year and I have only just got around to purchasing it. So far, I cannot recommend this book enough! In case you don’t know who Patti Smith is, she is an Artist, Writer and Performer (she’s an all-round creative) who gained recognition in the 1970’s in the Punk Rock movement. I find myself reading it whenever I can (mostly on trains and buses!), it leaves me feeling extremely passionate and driven to do what I want to do creatively through Keep Real, as well as work hard and get to where I want to be. If you’re feeling a bit of a creative block, read Patti Smith’s memoir. I cannot praise it enough.

wpid-img_20150701_175503.jpgAlso this week, I’ve been working on some designs for the new collection as well as some pieces for other people. It’s been slow going, as cultivating a theme of mandala inspired works has left me with the laborious task of dotworking large pieces bigger than my head! It’s quite therapeutic creating what I’m creating though. I’ve been trying out varied techniques such as cross-hatching, which so far seems to be working a treat!  wpid-img_20150704_121440.jpg

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Alkaline Trio and NOFX at the 02 Academy in Leeds. The last time I saw Alkaline Trio, it was 2008 and I was the ripe ol’ age of fourteen. I remember them playing at a festival in Sheffield and hearing ‘Time To Waste’ which blew my tiny little mind. So to see them now at nearly 21- brought back a lot of memories of being that awkward teenager who still wore fake converse and studded belts. NOFX however, were incredible. I did get a little battered in the pit- but I LOVED it. Probably the most fun I’ve had at a gig in a long time.

I’m also organising which events I will be running in to raise money for Rethink Mental Illness. I have to calculate how long it will take me to have the justified amount of physical health, in order to for me to feel comfortable in running. I’m thinking of doing a 5k run, then a 10k run later in the year. Plus I want to do the Three Peaks Challenge next year! It has been fairly hot temperatures lately, but doing a tiny mile run round the woods near my home should be sufficient in the meantime every day.

Hope you are well and as always- Keep Real! x