Express Yourself continues conversation on mental health through art

Express Yourself has students and faculty submit art that portrays their definition of mental health. (Courtesy of Samantha Crisp/ Ryersonian Staff)

Express Yourself has students and faculty submit art that portrays their definition of mental health. (Courtesy of Samantha Crisp/ Ryersonian Staff)

Ryerson University is offering an alternative way for students to express their thoughts and feelings towards mental health, a subject often tough for many to talk about.

The university is hosting the second-annual Express Yourself art exhibit from March 2-6. The event is part of Ryerson’s Mental Health and Well-Being Week, which takes place every semester. This week’s theme is “Continuing the Conversation.”

Ryerson’s health promotions team encourages students and faculty to artistically show and submit their definition of mental health, even if they have never personally suffered from a mental illness.

The art can be in any form, such as a painting, sculpture, poem or photography. Submissions can be made anonymously and may include a brief description of the piece.

“It provides a voice and a platform for someone who would typically not sit around a table and speak about it,” says Juannittah Kamera, health promotion’s programs co-ordinator. “We can find ways of appreciating other people’s views and how they interpret mental health.”

Featured artwork displayed at the Student Campus Centre lobby. (Courtesy of Samantha Crisp/ Ryersonian Staff)

Featured artwork displayed at the Credit Union Lounge. (Courtesy of Samantha Crisp/ Ryersonian Staff)

This year’s display, hosted in the Student Campus Centre lobby and at the Credit Union Lounge in the Podium, will also feature murals on how students cope with stress.

There will also be a display at the new Ryerson Student Learning Centre starting March 4.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 per cent of Canadians will experience mental illness at some point in their life, and every Canadian will be indirectly affected by mental illness through a family member, friend or colleague.

Peer-health promoter Kiran Khan says since mental illness is such a prominent issue in so many people’s lives, it is important for the Ryerson community to continue the conversation in order to make the campus more accepting.

Khan says she believes creating art can also provide another important benefit for students.
“For many people, art is the way they de-stress,” she says.

Last year, Express Yourself received 50 submissions. Despite getting a late start on promoting the event this year, Khan is just happy that submissions are close to 30 pieces strong.

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