Two Creston natives are looking to spark discussions, raise awareness and reduce the stigma around mental health by hosting a virtual conversation on the topic, on Aug. 8.
The “Create and Chat: A Community Conversation on Mental Health” is a Zoom-based event organized by Moriah Edge-Partington and Jennifer Bohn, who are inviting Creston residents to create and bring in an art-piece related to mental health to the discussion on well-being.
“Art has been known to be very therapeutic, to relieve stress, a way for people to express their emotions,” said Edge-Partington, who is in the final year of her honours degree in psychology at the University of Calgary. “Jen’s idea was to get people to create art about mental health or how they’re feeling around this time of uncertainty, that it’s a way to express that. We can all come together and either voluntarily share it, or just come to learn about mental health tips.”
People of all ages are invited to participate in the discussion, and are welcome — but are not required to — bring any type of artwork that speaks to their mental health, from poetry and songs to paintings and photography.
“We’re hoping for a decrease in mental health stigma. Creating art is very personal and sharing it is also incredibly personal,” said Bohn, a registered nurse who also graduated from the University of Calgary. “I’m hoping the art will create a doorway into those harder conversations, and creating a safe space to do so.”
The two emphasized that while they don’t have the ability to counsel or provide therapy, they hope to supply others with the tools to talk about and recognize mental health both in themselves and in others.
“Being a psychology student, I think I’ve realized over my years of education — even growing up in Creston — there’s a lack of discussion surrounding mental illness, especially in rural areas,” said Edge-Partington. “Just getting that out in the open and allowing people to discuss it or even ask questions that aren’t discussed in school. We all know that mental health is very stigmatized, so just getting that discussion out there and allowing people to express their feelings is good.”
Bohn added that she’s hoping that participants walk away from the event with a heightened awareness and a greater sense of empathy for people struggling with their mental health.
“Mental health and wellbeing are in all of us, and it’s not easy to notice in ourselves or others. Someone who looks perfectly fine could be struggling really badly and you don’t know that,” said Bohn.
Similarly, Edge-Partington said that she hopes participants develop a better understanding of how to support others and themselves when it comes to mental health.
“Going to therapy or counselling isn’t just for those who are severely depressed or have a severe mental illness. Anyone can go … Knowing that within yourself and for others is really important,” she said.
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