Importance of Creativity for Mental Health
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
I recently spoke at an amazing event organised by @creativeminds raising money for @mhq mental health research charity and @bellhousenews. A range of musicians, poets, artists and textile creatives shared their work and spoke about their experience of mental health. It reminded me how mental health touches all of us- whether directly or through those we care about. I share my speech from the day below:
In my daily work I work with businesses and communities increasing awareness of MH and supporting us all to find the right tools that improve our well-being, this can be different for us all- what works for me may not be right for you.
One of these tools is creativity it helps us gain and maintain positive mental health, studies have shown it has a positive impact on both recovery and ongoing well-being.
Creativity gives us an emotional release and supports us to take ownership of our own thoughts- whatever the thoughts may be saying, the first point towards well-being is recognising and acknowledging your thoughts, this enables us to be our authentic selves, boost self esteem and confidence-which are indicators of our well-being.
Pablo Picasso put it so well when he said "Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life"
There is so much going on in our lives and we are bombarded with information in the world, through social media, 24 hour news etc. But creativity helps us stop, notice and tune into ourselves.
When we have mental health issues it is often in part due to the rules or expectations placed on us by society, family, friends or even ourselves. We “must” do this we “should” be like that. Often comparing to others and mostly in a negative way- ring any bells with anyone? Creativity is the opposite, creativity isn’t bound by rules- it frees us and allows us not to be constrained in expectations but gives us the freedom of expression and thought.
It is a great way of expressing our inner thoughts, making our internal state external, that helps you to gain perspective or challenge those thinking patterns- is that really true?? it aids others understanding of how you feel, breaking down the myths and misunderstanding in MH. Improving communication in all its forms.
Depression for example can numb the senses and you can find it hard to understand your feelings or tap into what feels very dark but creativity can reawaken them- it can help us see the light and dark playing across our minds- by knowing the shadows and bringing understanding to our thoughts we can begin to heal, moving into a more awakened state of being.
Hafiz the 14th century Persian poet said “ Stay close to anything that makes you feel glad you are alive” I would say a pretty good way of living your life. Creativity in all its forms can enrich life and when going through hard times can be the lifeboat to cling onto. You do not have to be a wonderful painter or an amazing poet, it doesn’t matter , do not judge just express yourself in a way that supports you to release your emotions who knows you may discover a new talent!
We are all looking for meaning and purpose in life and sometimes in the places that do not serve us, creativity can help you tap into what is important to you and acceptance of who you are and who you are is enough.
I would like to finish in the spirit of today with a short poem
Late Fragment- Raymond Carver
And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
Beloved on the earth.
Thank you and I hope you manage to unleash your creativity and live your best life.