By Steve Cooke
World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October has never been more pertinent to our times. Organised by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
In Rochdale we have many fine examples of how the creative community are becoming significant stakeholders through helping young people become more resilient to the challenges presented by poor mental health. Challenges that are being exacerbated by the social isolation, anxiety and uncertainty brought about by the current pandemic.
Poor mental health can impact on every aspect of young people’s lives, including how they feel, think, and communicate as well as on physical health, educational attainment, employment opportunities, relationships, lifestyle choices, and risk behaviours.
Creativity is increasingly being deployed as therapy for the mind across the whole spectrum of the arts from writing to making music, dancing to painting, gardening to baking, drama to pottery, in fact whatever floats the creative boat.
Creative activities across our borough are being very successfully deployed as therapy for the mind, building resilience to poor mental health in many ways including:
Relieving stress - like yoga for the brain. Even simply observing creativity can decrease psychological stress, such as attending a concert, checking out a museum, or reading.
Improving mood - the self-reflection and greater understanding of oneself that comes with being creative can increase control over emotional pain and depression as well as boosting self-confidence and a feeling of wellbeing through achievement.
Cultivating a social life - bonding through common experiences and interests develops positivity and affirmation, improved social contact, and communication with others. A healthy social life is essential to our well-being and resilience.
In the coming months, in this column, we shall be celebrating the work of organisation where young people are being encouraged and enabled to build resilience to the mental health challenges they face. Giving them the opportunity to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for young people across our borough.
Organisations that will include such as:
Skylight Circus Arts http://www.skylightcircusarts.com/
M6 Theatre http://www.m6theatre.co.uk/
Cartwheel Arts http://www.cartwheelarts.org.uk
Touchstones Rochdale https://link4life.org/centres/touchstones-rochdale
Creativity in action at VIBE