At the recent Collective Vision Exhibition at Coventry University, my attention was drawn to two particular exhibits detailing the photographers' battles with anxiety and depression. These were brave exhibits to show and I have a lot of respect for the two photographers. Around 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue over the duration of a year and it can be very difficult to find a way of coping. This is where the creative industry plays a vital role.
With the stigma around mental health still unfortunately prevalent, art can sometimes be the only way for those struggling with mental health to truly convey how they are feeling. As the famous saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." Occasionally though, they are worth a lot more. For some, art can be their only escape.
It is for this reason that the arts industry has a responsibility to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. Research from The Mental Health Foundation suggests that art therapy, where people express how they are feeling through creative activities, has proved to be highly beneficial to those struggling with mental health issues. This is a great first step, now the arts industry has taken this to another level in order to end mental health discrimination.
The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is held every year in partnership with The Mental Health Foundation, and is dedicated to support the arts industry and to challenging the stigma around mental health. Artists from dance to visual to literature host exhibitions across Scotland to show the public what it is truly is like living with a mental health issue, as well as building audiences and showcasing their creative works. The festival is now in its eighth year and will take place in October.
Not only will this promise to be a great creative showcase, but the festival will be a great support to people struggling with their mental health. Festivals like this one are vital if the arts industry is to tackle the stigma around mental health.
The creative industry is in a great position to make a difference. Time will tell whether this is the case.