Celebrating Creative Journeys - Mental Health Week May 6 -12

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May 6 -12, 2013 is Mental Health Week, promoted by the Canadian Mental Health Association and amplified through thousands of community-based organizations across Canada. In Ottawa the theme for Mental Health week is “Celebrate the Creative Journey!”

This made us think about MDAO’s Touched By Fire program, dedicated to the development and celebration of work by artists affected by mood disorders and our other programs such as Laughing Like Crazy (next info session on May 30 for group starting July 4, 2013) … and our Learn to Paint program.

Research has found that engaging in art-making activities can improve mental health for everyone – and can help individuals avoid depression and anxiety, and increase life satisfaction. And the more actively we engage in creative and cultural activities the more we benefit.

Could your mental health be enhanced through a creative activity? Perhaps it’s time to start a new creative habit. Many people don’t think they’re ‘creative’, which most often means that they don’t believe they have an artistic talent, and that's often only because they haven’t had an opportunity to learn a skill that helps them express inherent creativity, such as how to paint. When encouraged to reflect on it, individuals often realize that they express their creativity in many ways, and often it’s through creative responses to the challenges of daily living. 

Amazing things happen when we engage in creative activities that help us express our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Some people get started by not thinking about the challenge of “making a drawing,” rather they just start with a dot, squiggle or line that expresses how they feel at a given moment. What colour would your first line be? Would it be thick, thin, straight, curvy, solid, or broken? What emotion might your line express? Or how might you share your story? Just start with a word. Or two. Or three. Or maybe you could reach out to someone who can help you express yourself through music, movement, drama, dance, or the visual arts.

Regardless of how you choose to embark on or celebrate your creative journey, we believe that celebrating each small step along the path to recovery is important. Creative activities coupled with peer support from those with similar life experiences are tremendously helpful as individuals move through difficult situations.

Find out about upcoming peer support and recovery groups in your area.


Some Ontario arts-events during Mental Health Awareness Week

Ottawa – May 7-11
Mad about the Arts
Move. Create. Discover Dance Workshop
Creative Journey Arts Vernissage
The River Runs
The Salus Big Bucket Band’s Documentary Premiere

Brantford – May 7-9
Mental Health Art Show/Sale
Chalk Challenge


Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA) Awakenings annual spring art exhibition and sale.