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

Keep Real: behind the scenes

Well, a lot has been going down lately with Keep Real. It’s so so SOOOO exciting, yet I just never blog about it. A lot has happened and is happening, so it’s a real big mush ball of designing, networking, creating and thinking. Definitely a lot of thinking!!

I held the first focus group for Keep Real last week at Huddersfield University (sorry, I didn’t get any photos…boo!) with more turning up than I thought- so that was awesome!! It was a little bit nerve racking, but I asked a lot of questions, discussed all that I wanted to discuss and presented my ideas for the brand. The more I present, the more I’ll feel comfortable doing it. It was great to have a lot of feedback, so that’s what I’ve been working on!Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 16.06.15

The fit of the garments is so crucial, and that’s what I’ve been struggling with. I know what I definitely want to create for the brand- but it’s about adhering to people’s needs. Unisex just doesn’t cut it, and I want to create the right fit for everyone. However, with the first launch of the new collection- it’s going to be super limited. This launch is about finding out what’s right, what needs changing and adapting.

I’ve been networking with all sorts of wonderful folk; photographers, musicians, bloggers, videographers etc. And continue to do so with a few meet ups next week! So it’s about getting the right people behind Keep Real, who are just as passionate about the brand’s ethos and aims! Also with the hopeful launch of the end of July, I’ve been looking at office spaces too. All in the good time though!

Anyway, back to my drawing boards and all of that jazz. Hope you’re all having an amazing day!

You can follow Keep Real on all social media platforms with @keeprealuk ❤

 

What Am I Up To? (A lot I guess!)

Hey folks, and Happy Women’s Day!!!  Thought I would do a personal update; as there’s quite a bit going on recently!

Firstly, I’m mega proud to say that my business Keep Real‘s ‘proof of concept’ application was approved, so the business is now in the process of doing more research before hopefully launching in July of this year. So excited, and so much to be doing! Plenty of lovely souls have approached me to get involved- so it’s brilliant to have a bit of a team behind Keep Real (Want to know more about us? Click here) who share the same passions and values. Truly humbled, and I cannot wait to see where KR goes. If you’d like to get involved in anyway, feel free to email me at kimmykeepreal@gmail.com! ❤

Also, as I still work part time at Boots (a job I had while at University, and has continued since I graduated!), as well as still being in the works of volunteering with the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust – I’ve been looking for work in mental health, or support work that gives me the opportunity to work with folk creatively. I can happily say that I’m into the second round of interviews at MENCAP, so finger crossed! Within the period of not being in full time employment since graduating, I’ve pretty much dedicated my time to working with non-profits and working on my business. I will hopefully be blogging for the non-profit ‘Trusted Clothes‘ who are based in Canada, and sharing the aims of my businesses sustainability and ethical sourcing of our clothes. The Slow Fashion Movement is something I really believe in, and Keep Real aims to be part of that. Inspiring wellness in all part of our lives, especially in the mind is so important ❤

So yeah, that’s what’s happening with me at the moment!

Hope you are all well, and as always – keep real! ❤

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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!