Last night saw the launch if the IDI initiative Mind Over Matter, which encourages a conversation around mental health in the creative industries. The initiative is the brain-child of the unstoppable Kim MacKenzie Doyle (outgoing president of the IDI) and this is its second year running, with a large donation last year gong directly to Aware.
Creatives are 25% more likely to suffer from mental health related issues and this event aims to shine a light on this.
How to get involved?
As a designer you can sign up to One Day of consultation at a variety of locations nationwide. You give your time and clients and business owners book you in for 1 hour and pay €75. The entire amount received goes to Aware who work with everyone, not just creatives, on mental health understanding, training in coping mechanisms and a range of other services. They have a number of online and group programmes to help as many people as possible.
But lets shine a light on the creative sector. The panel last night at the launch included Chupi Sweetman (Chupi Jewellery), Aoife Dooley (Illustrator), Brendan Courtney (Fashion designer & TV personality) and Brid O’Meara (Aware) and MC'd by the unforgettable Paddy Cullivan. Each of them gave insights into how their own mental health has shaped not only the person they are now but the work that they do. Aoife gave the packed crowed an insight into her life and her head! She spoke frankly about begin diagnosed with autism, how she copes on social media and how as a new-comer to the stand-up scene she finds a release in getting out on stage just like other people might go for a walk! Chupi honestly explained that it was her realisation that she was not producing work that mattered to her that made her embark on the quest to make, as she says, ‘lovely sparky things’, but also mentioned how she finds it difficult to pull away from the office at 5 and switch off. Brendan gave an insight into how events in his life have impacted on his own mental health, from the death of his father to his close friend. He told of his anxiety around finding the next job when he started his career and spoke about how meditation is his go-to coping mechanism. Brid O’Meara was a mind full of information and her main message was to mind your sleep and identify when unhelpful thoughts are creeping into your day. If you recognise them you can stop, them.
But this got me thinking. How sustainable are my own and current creative work practices? Through college all-nighters are almost a prerequisite. And this spills over into working life. Trying to constantly over-deliver to exceed client expectations with ‘on-tap’ creativity, is sadly becoming the norm. Clients want answers to large strategic business solutions turned-around over night in some cases. And as a self-employed designer worrying where the next pay check will come from we immediately cancel any life plans, roll up the sleeves and settle in for a late one. It has become somewhat a badge of honour in some studios too, to say you worked all night, had two hours sleep and drank four red-bulls! But who is to blame? I am not demonising clients and I understand that sometimes a short sharp deadline focuses the mind. But does the design community need to have more confidence to tell clients to be more realistic with timeframes? As designers we say we thrive under pressure, but is that to say we want to be put under pressure for each and every job we work on?
As a student I was told to always carry a notebook to record interesting things in your daily life. And I loved this practice, but now instead of capturing these moments of my curiosity I find I am problem solving client work on-the-go. This was never the intention of the notebook, and it is something I have only recently realised that I do. Feeding your own creativity and truly turning off, is a much more difficult feat than one might expect. And the discussion last night showed that this is constant struggle for many a creative soul. But becoming aware of your positive and negative work practices is at least a step in the right direction.
You can sign up to Mind Over Matter as a creative and donate your time here:
Also don’t forget it only works if businesses and client know about it. So share with your clients and on your networks!