What It’s Like Project is a nonprofit organization in Houston, Texas dedicated to providing mental health awareness and support through visual and media arts. We focus on unique perspectives, encouraging creativity in individuals living with mental illness through various art disciplines.
Research has found that expressive art provides individuals the “opportunity to become active participants in their own treatment and empower them to use imagination in productive and corrective ways. Whether through art, play, music, movement, enactment, or creative writing, expressive therapies stimulate the senses, thereby ‘sensitizing’ individuals to untapped aspects of themselves (Gladding, 1992) and thus facilitating self-discovery change, and reparation” (Malchiodi, 2005). Given these results, developing What It’s Like Project fosters an essential role in the lives of many individuals encountering mental health difficulties. Furthermore, our organization holds the space for continuous artistic projects to develop and flourish, maintaining a supportive space of individuals.
Although a growing number of helping professionals understand the impact of artistic approaches, there are still limitations like any therapeutic approach. Specifically, visual and media arts do not appeal to every person with mental illness. In fact, some individuals may express heightened anxiety and stress related to publicly breaking their anonymity. This may also negatively influence self-esteem in relation to the value of their self-expression. Various creative arts (including media and visual arts) have proven to be beneficial and effective. However, more research is needed to better understand how these approaches work.
values and principles
Awareness, activism, empowerment, healing, unification and creativity. Humans find value through self-expression and expressive art story-telling. The unspoken is communicated through this self-expression. A linkage is created between the observer and the artist. Subsequently, our society can become more aware of mental health, which can potentially diminish or erase stigma. Our unification and understanding helps adjunct both individuals who live with mental illness and those who do not.
Gladding, S. (1992). Counseling as an art: The creative arts in counseling. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
Malchiodi, C. A. (2005). Expressive therapies: History, theory, and practice. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.