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Mental Health for All
Artists in support of Stella’s Place on World Mental Health Day
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental health for all’ with a call to action to get involved. As a global community in the grips of a pandemic, we are starting to realize the effects of isolation, economic downturn, fear and unrest on our collective mental health. For those of us who are experiencing mental health needs for the first time, the navigation of our healthcare system and limited access to services may come as a shock.
The Covid-19 pandemic is exposing significant gaps, not only with regards to mental health services but also with respect to how we can better serve our seniors and our homeless population. It is a crucial point in time to imagine and advocate for the society we want to live in post pandemic.
We need to pay more attention to each other as human beings, to our roles as citizens and complicity in systems and structures that create inequity, and to our ailing planet. Just like the “wood wide web”, the mycorrhizal network of roots, fungi and bacteria that connects plants and trees in a subterranean social network, we are all interconnected. And we need to care.
Creative art can be an effective way to promote both recovery and awareness and to transcend the limits of our medical models. On this World Mental Health Day, three artists are sharing their talents and insights in support of Stella’s Place’s holistic approach and the day’s motto to help increase access to services:
“It seems like the model for parents of people who struggle is either the home or the hospital, and there’s a serious lack of the middle-ground, community-based mental health centres. There’s literally just Stella’s Place it seems,” says filmmaker Michelle Melles. She has dedicated her Master’s project to advocate for more places like Stella’s.
Michelle is currently shooting a documentary about her daughter, Corrina. The film, entitled “Drunk on Too Much Life”, is a family’s journey from the grey, institutional hallways of locked-down psych wards, diagnostic labels and pharmaceuticals, onto a world of colour, music, poetry, self-determination and meaning. One of the big themes in the film is how extremely sensitive people can develop resilience. “The best notions of resilience come from nature,” says Kevin Healey, an activist in the Hearing Voices Movement. “There is no better example of resilience than trees with their branching nature and connections to the mycorrhizal network beneath the surface. Resilience is not a solo project – connectedness is resilience.”
“We have this tendency to see people who struggle as ‘the other’ and they are humans. We are all humans and we are all on the spectrum of sensitivity together. The worst thing for people who struggle is the lack of connection,” elaborates Michelle.
Her message of resilience applies to parents, too. “We are all works in progress!”, she says, “Enmeshment comes at a cost.” Her advice is to develop good boundaries and to cultivate our own self-compassion and sense of well-being. “It’s what gives you energy. It’s what gives you love.”
Drunk on Too Much Life will be premiered at the Doc Now Documentary Festival next June. In the meantime, catch a sneak preview:
Statement of Patient’s Condition
When the appointment is over, I clasp the paper in my trembling hands. I stare at the summary of my predicament. Listening closely to what’s unsaid, I attempt to unscramble the words she wrote about how my-brain-affects-my-thinking-affects-my-actions-affects-my-suitability-for-the-world. After carefully considering her remarks, I write out my answer to her assessment. I tuck it carefully into my pocket, not needing to share my secrets just yet.
Official Statement of Patient’s Condition: patient-suffers-from-over-exposure. patient-has-trouble-walking-on-busy-streets. she-can’t-seem-to-manage-to-stay-solid-on-the-subway. patient’s-hearing-is-ramped-up. sensory-wires-crossed. cognition-slow-and-strained. she-has-trouble-with-basic-tasks. patient-often-gets-confused. she-sees-and-hears-things-that-are-not-there. patient-thinks-people-out-to-get-her. patient-must-be-kept-at-cool-temperatures. care-must-be-taken-or-she-will-erupt.
Unofficial Statement of Patient’s Condition: patient-keenly-aware-of-her-senses. fox-hearing-ramped-up. patient-feels-connected-to-the-natural-world-and-prefers-trees-to-machines. patient-sees-poetry-everywhere. patient-senses-how-everything-is-connected. she-can-live-with-oneness-and-multiplicity. patient-has-insight-into-when-she-needs-help-with-basic-tasks. she-is-skilled-at-asking-for-help. patient-is-sensitive-and-needs-to-be-surrounded-by-trustworthy-people. patient-exhibits-wonder-and-allows-space-for-mystery. patient-has-otherworldly-perceptions. she-demonstrates-unusual-intensity. patient-has-capacity-to-expand-and-transform-into-the-fire-element. handle-patient-with-care.
Carol Krause, “Statement of Patient’s Condition,” The /tƐmz/ Review 7. Reproduced with permission.
Carol Krause is a former Peer Supporter at Stella’s Place. Carol now lives on disability support and poetry, and feels most alive crawling through caves. You could say her world is smaller now, but sometimes the smallest spaces can fit a whole world inside them.
“Sometimes we find ourselves in the DARK without even REMARKing that light, hope and power is within us. Home is within us!”, exclaims spoken word artist Sydellia Ndiaye.
To Sydellia, Stella’s Place is a source of light, hope and power. It is a space that felt like home from the minute she entered it when she performed at our Sunflower Showcase event this past January. She says that like the last piece to a completed puzzle, it only made sense to release her poem “Down The Yellow Brick Mental” in support of Stella’s Place.
This piece was not only inspired by hope-giving organizations such as Stella’s Place, but even deeper by the 1939 American Classic “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland. Ndiaye believes that Brain, Heart, and Courage are the key ingredients to overcoming mental health challenges. Such as the scarecrow, tinman and lion, life takes us individually down paths to encourage us to discover the strength and capabilities within ourselves.
“Home is where the mind finds peace.” Sydellia’s words couldn’t ring more true in this time. Join us in advocating for mental health for all, today and every day. Get involved in our community and start your commitment today.