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The month of May is the month of mental health awareness, and I think a blog about writing is a perfect place to address this. Why is this important for a writing blog? Because not only might it be an aspect of character arcs and development, but it is likely an aspect of life for the writer. Most creatives that I have known, have had some form of mental illness that plagues them. I believe that everyone will deal with it in some form at least once in their lives.
Unfortunately a stigma exists against any mention of mental health. However, it’s just like regular health, only regarding your mental facilities. This includes self-talk, thought and emotional patterns, and simply processing information. Many of the healthy habits of eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising greatly improves mental health. However, there are often additional efforts required to keep a healthy mental state. I am not a psychologist or any form of doctor, but I have had some experience in mental health and how it relates to creativity.
Creating for Mental Health
Creating is one of the most important ways to care for mental health. It allows your brain to find its own way of expressing and processing information. Stress is a common mental malady that is greatly helped by creativity. Even making a to-do list and an action plan is an act of creativity. This simple form allows your brain to evaluate the tasks and organize it into a manageable plan, therefore reducing stress.
While puzzles differ in complexity and subject matter, the puzzle, question, or issue, requires creativity to solve. Mental health issues are problems with a mental process, just like a puzzle. I have heard of and seen many writers that work through traumatic incidents through their writing. I myself have utilized a story to make sense of my own emotions. With a new form of expressing what may not come out in audible words, I and others, including you, are able to come to understand the thoughts and emotions that are hard to process.
Creating about Mental Health
Diversity is generally understood as a reference to cultural differences. However, disability and personal struggles is just as much of an aspect of diversity. We are all different for a reason, we have different strengths, weaknesses, and ways of understanding things. Mental health is part of diversity. With a variety of struggles and challenges, your readers are more likely to find a connection with characters in your story.
Including mental health challenges and solutions in your creative material is an excellent way to encourage awareness. An increased awareness will help the understanding of individuals as well as society as a whole. Individuals that struggle with depression, anxiety, ADD, or other challenges, need understanding people to support and strengthen them in managing their health. As you increase your own awareness and understanding, and that of others, we become a stronger society with a capability to strengthen and care for one another.
Creativity is a way that we can connect with what is otherwise intangible and complicated. While creativity can be quite abstract or metaphorical, it is still a connection to the mental processes and and emotions that are otherwise hard to understand. Mental health and creativity go hand in hand by adding depth to creations and improving health.
A final note: don’t avoid improving your mental health in order to use it for creative material. All art is better because of contrast, and people look for examples of overcoming. Your creativity will be better as you improve your mental health, creativity is something that will help you in that journey. Finally, if you or someone you know struggles with their mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out to get help. If you are interested in learning more about mental health, go to this blog where the writer shares insights and tips about managing and understanding mental wellness.