Um espaço para partilha de ideias relacionadas com as práticas artísticas
e os seus efeitos terapêuticos, com destaque para a vertente musical

quinta-feira, 24 de maio de 2012

Art Helps People Live With Mental Illness

At HAI Art Studio, all of the artists have mental illness, and the studio is funded as a mental health program designed to facilitate rehabilitation. 
"Because of the stigma about mental illness, I get treated like I am not functional in society. Here we are treated like artists, and I feel like an artist, not a mental patient.", says one of the artists. She is working on a fairly large canvas. She has painted a background in shades of blue and has just added a flower in vibrant purple. "I have a cocktail of anxiety and depression," she says. "Blue is healing. It helps me slow down and be in the moment. I hope it helps others too."
Everyone at the studio is working from his or her own artistic vision. The creative director of the program and a working artist says that the individuality of the artistic experience is at the heart of the studio's philosophy. "We do not have a single standard." Sometimes the director offers suggestions to help the artists realize their personal vision or to experiment doing something different and challenging for them, but the goal is for each artist to be engaged in the effort to create images that speak to them personally. However, he adds, "Artistic work at the studio is not just a private experience. We mount our own shows, curated by the artists, so that they can have the experience of public presentation of their work. We also have group critiques for artists who want focused review of their work by their peers."
The artists speak about the studio in glowing terms: 
"People with mental illness need an outlet"
"The studio gives people a chance to create, to experiment, and to show their work."
"It's very inspiring here. You pick up the energy, ideas, and creativity of everyone else."

Being with so many like-minded people and having a sense of camaraderie are clearly important dimensions of the experience for these artists. But there's much more to it. It's being in a place without stigma, where people believe in themselves and their abilities. It's having a source of pride. It's having the opportunity to be totally engaged in work they care about. It's having a sense of accomplishment.
Positive psychologists, such as Martin Seligman, tell us that these are among the primary components of psychological well-being. In our society it is not easy for people with mental illness to find opportunities to engage (to immerse themselves) in activities they find meaningful, to experience a sense of accomplishment, and to be part of a community of shared interest and mutual concern. Art can make it possible.
"We need more programs like this," tells the creative director. "We need people to advocate for more funding so that more and more people with mental illness can have art in their lives and a reason to get out of bed in the morning."
Info accessed at Huffington Post
Image at

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