So the 10th October marked another ‘World Mental Health Day’ aka WMHD. Although I assume some of you reading this, may not have know this… It’s okay you can put your hands up and admit it, as that is what makes awareness days needed = to do just that, make more people aware!
This year I spent my WMHD at a local community centre hosting an event by ‘Life Balance Arts’ a local Arts Community Investment Company who use their profits and assets for the public good. The afternoon was all about Mental Health and using different art forms to express ourselves, but also to create a comfortable atmosphere for people to openly and safely share their personal stories regarding Mental Health.
This post will give you a breakdown of the creative activities used throughout the day and how these types of sessions can be used to help mental health conversations. Art and Music can help create an open atmosphere to express ourselves in creative and fun ways. So let me tell you all about my ‘World Mental Health Day’ Spent With The Arts.
Art Therapy for Mental Health
Using Arts & Crafts to help people express their feelings:
Giano Johal, the founder of ‘Life Balance Arts’ facilitated craft workshops tailored for the day’s focus. There was mask decorating, which grabbed my conscience straight away as I know the masks I daily wear when trying to hide pain & falsely say “I’m ok, thank you” when asked how I am.
We all wear masks in life to different degrees:
- That telephone voice we all have for important calls.
- That false calm voice we talk to the children if even when we all stressed to the max!
- The mask we wear at work to behave appropriately so we don’t get sacked.
- The mask the victim puts on even to their family when they are secretly being abused behind closed doors.
- The chronic illness sufferer trying to put on a brave face and push through the pain just to do a ‘normal’ activity and actually feel like they are living not just surviving.
- The person battling depression that may not tell a soul about it.
- The person who smiles at you, as they park next to you on the top story of a car park, before they walk to the edge as they want to jump off.
The last one may sound harsh to some but it really is that serious. Mental Health can be a matter of life and death!
Okay Helen, now BREATHE!
Breathing Exercises to help with dealing with emotions:
A breathing exercises workshop was next, facilitated by a Guru Ram Daas Trust teacher, who run sessions in the surrounding city. We learnt techniques to relax our bodies and calm our minds down through using our breaths, alternating nostrils and changing over from shallow breathing to deep inhales and exhales. We all felt our heads were clearer and our bodies calming after these breathing exercises. I’ve actually completed an introductory beginners course in Breathing Techniques, so this just reminded me of the importance for me to be do breathing exercises daily, as lately I admit I only do them ever so often. (Shhhhhh don’t tell my old instructor!)
Nutrition for better health workshop:
Following, was a subject close to my heart: Nutrition. As this has been why my journey has changed with discovering things about our body systems, our foods, and natural healthy living as a whole.
Parveen Talwar a nutritionist talked all about the gut being our 2nd brain & the importance of what we eat actually affects our brains and moods. I agreed with everything she said and the fact I already knew the things she was saying also gave me a confidence boost for knowing how informed and correct my discoveries and education has been so far. Obviously, the short time factor meant she couldn’t expand further after giving a quick but precise summary of key things to change for better health and mental health effects. However, I would love to hear more and will look out for more sessions from her in the future.
Talking Therapy for Mental Health
Spoken Word came next with Anita Louise Kaur sharing her story of a mental breakdown & an encouraging recovery. She also read aloud her poem she had written all about depression – which was very moving. Find it on her twitter feed: @anita1967
The sharing stories section actually brought a physical tear to my eye… okay, okay, a few tears as I turned away to wipe my face!
A beautiful kind soul Bella Singh spoke of opening up her home for people in the local community who need respite care and it was truly humbling. Her amazing husband supported her venture of providing care and so over the years has had bigger property premises to house people.
One of the elder ladies who lives with her asked to say something and so she told the group what a wonderful ‘mom’ Bella had been to her these past 15 years (that is when the tears started).
Susan Brookes shared her news of setting up a magazine for children’s mental health ‘Positive Kids Magazine’ which sounds a brilliant initiative – you never know maybe one day I will write an article for her magazine… (Just putting it out there! heehee)
Using Music Therapy for Mental Health
To loosen us up & to help us lose our inhibitions we then took part in a Dhol drumming workshop by Tubsy Dholki Waller. It was a really fun workshop that we all needed at that point for some light relief from emotions.
We all left there not only dancing away screwing in the light bulbs with our arms and bending our knees while shouting “HOY!” – but also smiling, laughing and carrying less tension than when we first stood in a line waiting for instructions like we were frozen in the spotlights! 😉 (I’m not sure if I should admit that there are videos of this on facebook?! haha)
The day reminded me, why working as a Drama Practitioner, I love using acting to speak to people about sensitive subjects such as Mental Health, but also as an outlet for people to work through their own emotions through joining in with specific drama exercises.
I honestly came away from the day feeling inspired & so I got home, sat on my heat pad and started to type and let my reflections unload onto the screen, and then this blog was created!
I went along with my trusted pillow in hand and headed for the more comfortable option in the chairs available (As Fibromyalgia makes sitting uncomfortable & sitting for long periods at a time in one position, flares up pain & stiffness etc – this trusted pillow has travelled all around the world with me and indeed could tell a few tales! Scroll back up at the end & click to read my post: 7 Amazing Life Experiences I’ve had all around the World; Versatile Blogger Award Interview )
Why don’t you read my other blog post: How you can join in with raising awareness on Mental Health… “IT’S A WIN!” As a Helen’s Journey blog is a chosen feature blog in #MentalHealthMonday Twitter Competition
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