Yesterday, Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths launched the Welsh Government’s new ten-year mental health strategy ‘Together for Mental Health’. It’s a strategy that is designed for everyone in Wales to play a part in improving the health and wellbeing of a nation – think about it….this is a watershed moment for Wales and mental health policies in general and the Welsh Government should be applauded for making such a bold, but badly needed, statement and commitment.
My interest is how I, and many others, can make the potential areas of work for Making Minds relevant to the strategy’s delivery plan. More broadly it’s how we can show, now more than ever, how art and creativity can improve people’s mental health across all walks of life, irrespective of need and personal circumstances.
We will need to be creative, bold and innovative if we’re to achieve this, but there has clearly never been a better time to be involved in the mental health ‘movement’ in Wales and the opportunities are surely ours to create.
Working in partnership with mental health charities, the NHS in Wales, Local Authorities, Local Health Boards, housing associations, schools and colleges, employers in all sectors and industries and many others, we can show how arts and creativity can and will make a difference.
As our aims state:
– We will seek to work with people with mental health problems, whether they have a formal diagnosis or not. Some may not have got a formal diagnosis due to the stigma of mental ill health.
– We will seek to work with artists and people in the creative industries, that have mental ill health, to improve their prospects in work and business.
– We will seek to work with employers to support their workforce, to reduce mental health-related absence and support those with mental ill health who are currently out of work.
Tackling stigma is another way in which art and creativity can come into its own. Think of all the activities that people can get involved in, where they can focus the mind, be supported to express themselves, release an inner talent and associated emotions that will help them to tackle stigma head on. Giving people the realisation that they can achieve, communicate and connect will all help to increase their chances of getting the support they need. Art and creative activities can themselves help to create messages that will support any awareness raising activities that are going on in Wales, around mental health. The scope is as vast as different art forms will allow – in effect, endless.
These are exciting times….challenging times…..times that we very much want to be involved with, create new activities and interventions and support those that already exist.