This month’s artists are members of the Beyond the Heart Clubhouse. The Clubhouse offers a community-based, complimentary approach that “offers people with mental health illnesses, hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential ” (Beyond the Heart Clubhouse Newsletter,Vol.1, Issue 1, 2015).
Challenging the stigma surrounding issues of mental health is considered by the Clubhouse members and staff to be an ongoing campaign. Identifying with mental illness can be as close as someone who is your brother, co-worker or friend who manages their lives with this diagnosis. Stigma can manifest itself in difficulty finding housing, entering higher education, obtaining insurance and receiving fair treatment in the criminal justice or child welfare systems.
Documented research suggests that engaging in a creative process can provide a powerful outlet for things that are hard to talk about. Already, a growing number of medical practitioners endorse creative expression for its therapeutic impact on managing the physical and mental conditions associated with anxiety, social isolation and loneliness. Struggling with self-doubt and self-blame can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness but for some, the creative arts gives voice to those feelings which can then begin a journey of healing and create a positive sense of self, health and well-being.
View the creative expressions from the Beyond the Heart Clubhouse this month and while you are visiting, take in a new exhibit in the Peace River Gallery co-developed with Project Peace, a school-based program aimed at improving student success by developing emotional intelligence which is based on creating self-awareness and empathy for others. The exhibit “Peace of Mind” takes a retrospective look at the history of mental health practices and attitudes in Alberta and offers visitors hands-on stations to playfully practice mindfulness and intention.