This week is Mental Health Week. In any given year 1 of every 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem, and by the time you turn 40 there is a 50-50 chance that you will have suffered from a mental health problem.
Despite the widespread experience of mental health issues across the country only half the people reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety have ever gone to see their doctor about the issue. These statistics indicate that we still have a ways to go in addressing the stigma around those of us who have experienced mental health issues.
From May 28-29 the folks at Workman Arts are carving out a space to explore the intersections of the arts and mental health at their #BigFeels symposium. The program is exploring these issues from a wide range of perspectives, from the individual practicing artist to organizations working to create positive workplace mental health cultures.
On a personal note, this is something I feel very passionate about. As someone who has grappled with mental health issues, later went on to train as an expressive arts therapist and then led an arts organization that worked in communities grappling with the effects of inter-generational trauma, I have experienced a diversity of ways that the arts help to create spaces for individual and collective healing. I have also experienced how the work of community-engaged arts in neighbourhoods grappling with inter-generational trauma can take a toll on staff. I found it incredibly challenging as a leader to create a culture of positive workplace mental health within the context of a cash-strapped arts organization. And I know that I was not alone. For this reason, I’m very excited about the conversations that will be taking place at #BigFeels.
As a sector, how do you think we are doing when it comes to building a culture of positive workplace mental health? What does that even look like?
*gratitude to my colleague Ben for the Canadian mental health stats!