A few weeks ago it was Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme was “Surviving or Thriving?”. Are we thriving with good mental health, or are we just getting by? The statistics are not good; nearly two thirds of people say they have experienced a mental health problem.
Fortunately, the benefits of arts for mental wellbeing are increasingly being recognised. If you’re an artist who wants to help people thrive, there are more and more opportunities for this. For those of you who are empathic, patient and a good communicator, you could work directly with individuals or groups. Alternatively, if your skills include organisation, IT and social media expertise, there are plenty of community arts organisations looking for administrators and marketing support.
If you want to get into this type of work, volunteering with such organisations may be a good place to start.
Note that if you want to be a professional art therapist, you need to complete validated training. For more information see the British Association of Art Therapists. Other roles such as community arts workers or workshop facilitators may not require these qualifications. If you’re interested in running workshops, check out PAPER Arts’ session on The Art of Facilitation on 22nd June.
The other side of arts for mental health is that you as an artist also need support! If art is how you make your living, it can be just as stressful as any other job. Take time to do your own thing once in a while. Create something for pleasure, without any deadlines or expectations. Play! All the artists I have talked to find that this is a very necessary balance to professional work. It is through play and experimentation that they develop their own style and grow as artists. You deserve to thrive as well – take care of yourself.
written by Beth Hammond
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