In addition to reading my own blog posts, I have been greatly encouraged to read other blogs and articles which relate to mental health (broadly speaking) and wanting to make use of my A-N subscription. A preliminary search for ‘mental health’ produced 24 different search items including events, conversations and other resources.
I’m particularly drawn to artists who express facets of their own mental health through their work or have experience of undertaking therapy themselves. For instance, I have really enjoyed reading Alistair Gentry’s article about London-based artist Liz Atkin who creates work both in response to and as a way of coping with compulsive behaviours. These descriptions are acutely personal and brave given that talking about one’s own social and emotional wellbeing can be very difficult. In Aitkin’s case, it can be hard to capture one’s own struggles with anxiety in a way that feels accessible and resonant with others who have not had the same experiences, as well as those who have. Speaking publicly in this way can also spark opposition from others which might negatively impact upon the individual’s mental health, making them reticent about speaking out in the future. Gentry’s article also highlights this issue. He describes that,
‘Of the many artists I spoke to as part of my recent research into the experiences and strategies of artists who experience mental health problems, one of the few who was prepared to speak openly about her experiences was Liz Atkin.
This reticence is not particularly surprising, given that many artists and arts workers told me they had heard first-hand a wide range of deeply unsympathetic comments about themselves or about mental illness in general from colleagues’
I myself have veered away from elaborating upon my own mental health due to fears that someone I work with, in a therapeutic context, might read this. I am sure that I could speak more freely were I to write anonymously or under a pseudonym. A while back someone sent me a resource called A Psychotherapist’s Guide to Facebook and Twitter: Why Clinicians Should Give a Tweet!. I referred to it in one of my first blog posts in 2012 and it would be useful to revisit it again.
On other hand, this blog has never been about exploring my mental health, but looking more broadly at the parameters of art and therapy as a therapist in-training.
Gentry, A. (2018). Artists and mental health: Liz Atkin, #CompulsiveCharcoal artist – a-n The Artists Information Company. [online] a-n The Artists Information Company. Available at: https://www.a-n.co.uk/resource/artists-mental-health-liz-atkin-compulsivecharcoal-artist/ [Accessed 16 Aug. 2018].