Expressive Arts for Mental health

A session for groups on Mental Health Awareness focussion on the importance of expression, community and holistic health using the medium of arts.

I was talking to my supervisor during one of our sessions about mental health and well-being and how widely it has been spoken about in the recent times especially during this pandemic, the global and national events that followed. We discussed the sudden need and the urgency of taking care of ourselves, families, friends and teams in these tough times. But I wonder why mental health and well-being is only restricted to these tough times and not openly spoken about otherwise. How can it not only be a knee-jerk reaction and become a way of life just like we visit a nutritionist, skin-specialized, take to yoga or any other regular physical health consultancy? (I have heard this sentence lately in so many different ways)

My powerful personal experience with the arts during a crisis led me to study expressive arts therapy. Expressive arts include the use of movement, music, drama, poetry, writing and visual arts to facilitate growth, imagination, creativity and expression. I truly advocate the use of arts and expression in our life and find it extremely important for myself as well as extremely useful with the clients I have worked with. I have witnessed how the expressive arts process helps clients open up, access experiences, memories which were not cognitively available, make sense of their patterns of behavior and so on. With corporate groups, it has been wonderful to see how arts help in team-building, self-expression, and communication.

I am sure that you have read multiple articles or posts on the importance of arts and mental health. My emphasis is how can we start to take action and use it for ourselves and others around us?

Firstly, let’s talk about our concerns. 
Yes, it takes courage to be vulnerable.

I truly believe that the first step is the hardest but it’s also 50 percent of the work done. I am going to just mention the first step here. The rest of the work is a collaboration once we have a conversation about it. Once we’ve agreed upon an objective based on a mutual needs-analysis, these expressive arts sessions will cater to your group needs. We will have safe conversations, build connections and bonds, express, work together and explore with the arts. This session is customised based on the group that we will be working with. If you are a an HR professional looking for a team building activity for your company or employees or want to focus on the mental health of your team that is working hard, for long hours and under a lot of stress I can help build a series of sessions for your team that will engage them, help them unplug and disconnect and also give them ongoing self-help activities that will be followed up on using buddy systems and other interesting group work processes.

These various arts have always been a part of our lives. We tap our feet when we hear music, we can’t keep our hands off a drum which is lying in the same room, we doodle if we notice a pen and a blank paper. Yes, this will be a great start to experience the arts and the impact it has on our mental-health, our self-expression, well-being and life and not only because a pandemic has created a whirlwind for most of us. But because it is an on-going process that helps us break our barriers and collectively, break the social stigma attached to conditional or sporadic self-care together.