"Knock Knock" Who's There? "Mental Health"

The way the creative arts is being recognised as the new modern medicine in treating mental health

By Grace Farrar

There is an ongoing, traditional treatment of mental health and wellbeing in society, that being those who appear to suffer from mental health issues need to seek medical attention. This was represented in a report done by The Kings Fund (2020) which reflected that around 40% of GP appointments now involve mental health. This is a significant step as it means that more people are seeking the help and support that they need, the more we speak about our issues, the more it helps to diminish that stigma. However, there are alternative ways individuals deal with their mental health on a daily basis, approaches that some may consider unorthodox, but prove to be increasingly beneficial.

In recent years, more and more comedians have commented on their own struggles with mental health. One of the most well-known comedians who has participated in numerous campaigns alongside being a longstanding supporter and advocate for mental health is Stephen Fry. In 2006 he released a documentary “The Secret Life of  Manic Depressive” in which he delved into great detail discussing the way that he was left feeling increasingly overwhelmed during the 1990’s due to his mental health. Another noted individual within the industry addressing mental health is American comedian Suzi Ruffell. In 2020, Suzi discussed with Forbes how she uses comedy not only as a coping strategy with her own mental health, but additionally how she has incorporated the topic into her sketches in such a raw format.

Suzi discussed how when she has been on stage discussing how sh!t she felt things had been and the audience would laugh, she interpreted that as them being able to resonate with what she was saying, almost a nod to yeah I’ve also felt that way. Edinburgh Fringe Festival Winner John Robins also associated with this feeling of channelling his mental health into his work. He discussed how stand up is a method he uses to make sense of how he is feeling, and that because stand uses experiences in life for content, mental health is a very real part of life, and the reality is that whether it is good or bad – everyone has mental health.

It is not only comedy that has be recognised as being a more holistic alternative in terms of modern medicine, art is also noted as having healing powers in relation to mental health, with reference to the way that creative and expressive activities can relieve stress. This is related to the concept that creative arts play an increasingly positive role in individual wellbeing and overall mental health, so those who may be suffering find such practices as providing a safe space to reflect on their issues.

The use of a more outside the box way of treating mental health issues is well received by many who feel that their own treatment appeared to be sitting in a GP’s surgery. That is not to say that it is not an option – each individual must access their own mental health and decide the best avenue of treatment for themselves, but many recognise the benefits of a supportive, non-clinical environment that the creative arts arguably contributes’ to living with mental health.

Grace Farrar

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