Your mind is your most powerful asset…at least that is what I believe. Regardless of age or lifestyle, our minds are put through a lot of challenges with results that are sometimes out of our control. Earlier this year there were a number of tragic incidents that put the wide and complex topic of mental health on the mainstream agenda. The recurring debates and commentary got me thinking about the multiple dimensions of everyone’s mental health that effect all of us directly and indirectly. I see mental health as a wide spectrum – from instances of depression to difficulties in reading or math to uncontrollable personality shifts – that should not be dealt with as one general issue.
A solution to this biased discussion and potential healing that resonates with me is art. I’m not necessarily talking about art therapy, which has it’s own benefits, but also how we seek different forms of art to cope with whatever we are dealing with psychologically.
I have very intense emotions and tend to fill my mind with an overwhelming amount of ideas. Without major self-discipline, which is an active lesson that alters everyday, this state of mind causes mood swings that can lead to brilliance or self-destruction depending on the situation. I have always found music to be my essential remedy for everything. When I was younger my passion was dance, which later transformed into theater. I enjoyed escaping to new worlds as the music determined my movements. Throughout college as I developed my broadcasting skills, discovering new music and appreciating it at a deeper level was my new form of relaxation. Currently, I always have a smooth “songza” playlist quietly playing in the background in my apartment to focus, seek inspiration, or let my mind go blank.
I found these two examples of art for mental healing that I thought are worth shedding a spotlight on.
SoulCulture is a global online magazine for music, arts, and entertainment. Their site is a great place to discover new stuff and stay up to date with artists you love. A few months ago they started a campaign called “Ok Not To Be Ok” to raise and spread awareness and support for mental health. They interview a variety of artists who talk about what they have gone through and how they cope with it. I, of course, had to share the segment with Janelle Monàe.
Yashi Brown is an author, poet, public speaker, mental health advocate, and philanthropist. She does a number of amazing things that you can find on her website. Showcasing one of her many talents below, Yashi performs spoken word before patients and faculty at psychiatric and forensic facilities and private events. She is the founder of a nonprofit People of Poetry (POP) to showcase the positive, creative, and emotional influence poetic expression has among those with mental illness and youth.
What do you think of their work? What type of art do you seek to maintain your sanity?