Mental Health in an Unequal World: Creativity
Creativity has long been known to have a positive impact on your mental health. In 2015, psychologist and art therapist Dr. Cathy Malchiodi used multiple studies in her article Creativity as a Wellness Practice, to show that creativity can increase positive emotions, lower stress levels, reduce depressive symptoms, and even improve immune system functioning.
Why Creativity helps our Mental Health
Creative pursuits can help our mental health because it allows us time to do something just for us, that results in something existing that didn’t before. We can make choices, take risks, and ultimately enjoy time working on something that doesn’t have to do or be anything other than what it is.
As children we express ourselves so readily, with anything we could get our hands on – from paint, chalk, and clay. It seems strange that being creative is often viewed as something we outgrow.
If we do manage to nurture our creative side into adult life, we can often feel pressure to become perfect at it. We rarely allow ourselves to make art for the pure joy of it or let ourselves experiment with being imperfect. Instead of creativity being a source of positivity, it becomes a source of stress and anxiety.
That’s why I carry a notebook around with me. I have terrible handwriting and I can barely read back what I’ve scribbled down – and that’s OK. The act of writing is enough. It brings me out of the moment, while I focus on putting thoughts into words. It can be grounding and bring back a sense of control.
Unfortunately, expressing yourself creatively is often a privilege that many are unable to access or afford. This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day 2021 is Mental Health in an Unequal World and it is important to highlight the inequalities around creative expression. Not everyone can afford art supplies, or take the time out of their schedule to allow for creativity.
Mental Health services in Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing, and Hounslow such as Know My Mind, Limit Loneliness and Safe Space encourage creativity and group workshops, where expression and participation are valued.
These services are vital to the community. We should encourage each other to make art and, in the process, allow ourselves to be imperfect.
By Damaris Young
Adult Services Administrator
Posted on: 8th October 2021