Making Minds…open minds and tackling stigma

A big hello to the growing number of Making Minds supporters. I’m chuffed with the way the idea and general concept has been received and the interest that’s been shown by people of all backgrounds and organisations from various sectors. While we still have a long way to go before Making Minds is operational, I’m really pleased with the progress that’s being made. In fact, I hope to have some news for you in the next few weeks on the immediate future of Making Minds and the hopes for the first part of 2013.

One thing that has become apparent recently, is that the work of Making Minds will need to help tackle the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I’m very open about my brushes with mental ill health, as shown in a blog post that I wrote for the Time to Change Wales campaign a few months ago. However, I fully appreciate and understand why many others cannot be as open right now. I hope that Making Minds will be able to create opportunities, scenarios and environments for people to have conversations about mental health, in a way that is either not readily available in Wales or that is not currently promoted to a wider audience.

Those opportunities could present themselves in so many different ways. As I’ve said before, the scope of Making Minds work is as broad as the topic of mental health itself. That said, how great would it be if we could organise or support events and other activities at which people could use their creativity to overcome stigma, support others to do so or simply find that they are able to open up just by having a chat over a cuppa, but with a creative backdrop?

While doing some online research last week, I came across a report that looked into how the arts and artists can tackle mental health stigma. One of the main things it looks at is the mask….or the theatrical mask. I had toyed with the idea of basing the Making Minds logo on the mask. Many people living with mental illness may wear a proverbial mask or put on a front just to give the impression that they’re ok, even though all hell is breaking loose behind the exterior and they only remove the mask when they’re in their comfort zone. Elsewhere in the report, which was published around an event in the US in 2010, it makes the case for art challenging stigma because of its accessibility, diversity, transformative capability and how it can be a social leveller irrespective of the subject matter….so take a look and let me know what you think.

Tackling stigma is, probably more than any other mental health issue, the key to aiding someone’s recovery. If nothing else, it is the enabler…the catalyst. Art and creativity, it would seem, has a part to play in all of this.

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