Last month was Mental Health Awareness Month
We worked with Amsterdam’s Arthood Collective to host Art Therapy Sessions at Sir Adam around awareness, healing, and community. Part of our collaboration included two sessions that took place in our Sir spaces, the first with Ines Gaston, a Clinical Psychologist, that was about breaking barriers around mental wellbeing in everyday life.
The second session with Creative Coach Tara-Rizzo was about movement and expression as a vehicle toward wellbeing. The sessions were put together by two of the wonderful co-founders from Arthood Collective, Kristel and Denise, and we had the chance to sit down with them and Ines, to discuss topics around Mental Health Awareness and Art Therapy inside our hotel. Take a look.
Arthood Collective, could you share with us the story of how you started on this journey of creating a community focused on mental health and well-being?
Hey, thanks for having us! Our journey began with a realization that during the lockdown in 2020, it was crucial to have an online space where people could openly discuss mental health. Our passion for mental well-being dates back to 2016, when we started our collective, but we wanted to take it a step further and address the broader social context intertwined with mental health issues. That's when we decided to create a platform that caters to both mental health and the surrounding social landscape.
Could you share how you got involved with Arthood Collective and what initially inspired your collaboration?
Oh, it's been quite a journey! During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristel from Arthood reached out to me to participate in ‘De Vouwkrant’, their yearly folding paper full of interviews, art, articles etc. The focus was on combating loneliness, which was something we all experienced at that time. A few months later Arthood and I started to organize Art Therapy Sessions. We dove deep into understanding the importance of the brain around mental health. It was an eye-opening experience. Because the connection between mental health and a creative outlet is not something that is used within my clinical experience when a patient is receiving therapy. So this bridges a whole new view on how you can get to your emotions in a more creative way. Arthood Collective provided me with a platform to share my expertise as a clinical psychologist, and the collaboration blossomed from there.
How has the role of art and creativity helped individuals express their feelings and break the stigma surrounding mental health?
Art and creativity are like magic when it comes to mental health. Engaging in artistic activities allows individuals to express themselves in ways that might feel uncomfortable through traditional means of communication. Art provides a safe space for vulnerability, connection, and self-expression. It tears down walls and enables individuals to share their experiences and learn from one another. This process works wonders in combating the stigma surrounding mental health and nurturing a sense of community and support.
Ines, in the age of social media, where the pressure to present a perfect image is ever-present, what are some of the challenges people face in expressing themselves authentically?
You've hit the nail on the head! Social media has a massive impact on our lives, and it often promotes a culture of comparison. Many individuals struggle to express themselves authentically in the virtual world, where everyone seems to have a flawless life. The pressure to conform and project a specific image can make it challenging for genuine self-expression. Consequently, people might feel disconnected from their true emotions and find it difficult to navigate their mental well-being. It's vital for us to tackle this challenge head-on and redefine our relationship with social media, embracing authenticity and vulnerability.
Kristel and Denise, how do you both envision together with Arthood Collective, community and initiatives addressing these stigmas and challenges related to mental health in such a social media-driven world?
Oh, we're all about breaking down those stigmas! Our primary objective is to recognize that everyone faces difficulties at some point in their lives. We want to create spaces where people can address these challenges in a safe and creative manner. By promoting self-expression, vulnerability, and connection, we aim to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health. Our message is simple: seeking support and engaging in creative processes can become essential parts of growth and healing.
Such a powerful message. Ines, as a clinical psychologist, what do you believe is the key to empowering individuals on their mental health journey?
Ah, empowerment on the mental health journey is everything! It's about creating a supportive environment where individuals feel heard, validated, and understood. Empowerment comes from providing individuals with the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to take charge of their own well-being. It's about fostering a sense of autonomy, self-compassion, and resilience. When individuals feel empowered, they can navigate their mental health journey with confidence and embrace their unique paths to healing.
Lastly, are you also collaborating with other initiatives that are focussing on bringing people together in Amsterdam that are worth mentioning?
Yes, we believe it’s important to strengthen and support other collectives and platforms to strengthen our message and purpose together. At the moment we are in touch with LFMC, YUSU Coffee, Full Circle and Comfy Community for the new edition of ‘De Vouwkrant’. And we have warm contacts with PACT World Wide.