Positive Mental Health

Yesterday I painted – not a floor or a wall but a picture- for work and I really liked it. This sentence has so many contradictions, it should not make sense.

I am working with the Psychiatry Department on a few projects and as such was invited to their celebration of World Mental Health Day. This is normally marked on 10 October but here it coincided with Eid Al Adha. Therefore, the department choose to celebrate the  event on 28 October.

The management eschewed the customary workshop format:  plenary and break-out sessions followed by feedback,  and opted for a painting session. The ballroom of a local hotel was filled with 15 tables  each with 10  18′ x 12′ canvases mounted on easels. Paintbrushes, paints, water and hundreds of postcards of paintings were also made available.

Attendees were encouraged to either choose a picture to copy or create an original piece of work. At first I was a bit daunted, art, like maths, churns my stomach because I am not good at it and as such I refrain from doing it. But, I decided to get into the spirit of the session and  I choose a sunset scene in oranges and blues and plunged in.

My colour mixing didn’t go too well and I soon started to ‘interpret’ the painting in my own way and add personal touches to it.  Once I relaxed I started to enjoy the process and was quite pleased with the outcome, as were others in the room and family and friends I shared it with on Wattsapp.

The session encouraged a camaraderie among staff, patients and high school students. At work, we tend to only see one facet of people. However, this event revealed their other sides and hidden talents and helped us to get a better understanding of each other.

I  laughed at my and others’ less than polished attempts while admiring those with definite talent and realizing that this does not make me any less a person but accept that my talents lie elsewhere. I think when I want to de -stress I’ll still rather lose myself in a book but I have a feeling that it is not going to take another 29 years until I take up a paintbrush again.

When did you last do something for your positive mental health?