Creativity and Mental Health

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From ancient Greek to a recent Swedish study there has been a romanticised notion linking creativity to mental ill health. While, today we seem to have a better appreciation for creativity & mental health, the link between creativity and mental health remains of great interest, in fact,  creativity has long been studied as one of the most interesting human traits.

Creativity is at the heart of novel problem solving and ingenuity itself, and in a sense, it is the engine of the human growth.

But, what is creativity? Is creativity expressed in arts?

  • Are there different types of creativity?
  • Is there a relationship between creativity and our mental health and wellbeing?
  • Can we use creativity to enhance our mental health and to improve mental health services? and What are some examples of creativity in mental health?
  • Is creativity socially defined and is it influenced by cultural context? Does it vary in different societies?
  • Is creativity related to gender or age and are they expressed in different ways? e.g. Are the younger more creative than older people?
  • Is there a difference in expression of creativity across age or gender?

Creative behaviour may be defined as an interaction between the person & the situation. Therefore, creativity is a multifaceted construct, and so there is no single definition of creativity. But, the production of an idea or product that is novel and/or useful is generally thought to be a characteristic of creativity.

The criteria for a creative outcome generally include the idea that the production be original, novel, or rare and that it is either socially or otherwise “approved” and accepted.  It is this lack of approval or acceptance that has made many great creative artists less than appreciated in their lives.

Creativity is often associated with arts, however, it is actually a much broader concept. Indeed, creative act is result of primary process thinking allowing for generation of a novel idea through loose, illogical, and subjective thinking. Hence, it can affect every aspect of our life and experience.

From our appearance (e.g. the way we dress) to the depth of our emotions and feelings, from our behaviour (e.g. how we walk, talk, do various chores, work, manage our time) to our thinking, from math and science to arts, and from medicine to art therapy creativity can add a new dimension and expand our experience, or shed the light of a new perspective that brightens our world.

Therefore, creativity & creative expressions can have significant impact on our mental health and well-being. Indeed, if one abandons strict rigidity and allows for greater creativity, it may open the way for new approaches to understanding and enhancing mental health.

So thank you for joining and sharing your views and experiences on creativity and mental health @MHChat. Here is the link to the chat summary with your thoughts, ideas, and  insights shared during the chat.

Join us on Wednesday (26 March) at 8:00 PM GMT / 4:00 PM DST to discuss Health Inequalities (Here is the exact time in your own time zone).

In the meantime, share your thoughts and views on creativity and mental health by commenting below.

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