Everyone is talking about mental health these days, from the creative sector to finance, and it is no secret why. The number of people experiencing mental health challenges continues to rise because society still carries vestiges of pandemic trauma. We are trying to let go of ‘what was’ while also moving forward in our understanding of ‘what is’ – the reality of living in a vastly different and ever-changing world. But friends, even in this, there is hope.
Earlier this month, the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy declared loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection in the United States a public health crisis. In his Surgeon General Advisory, Dr. Murthy discusses how disconnection from one another leads to severe mental, physical, and societal health consequences. His solution? Increased social connection or, in other words, MORE of the services our local creative sector already provides Montgomery County residents.
We know creativity intersects with individual and community health and well-being in numerous ways. Now more than ever, we hear stories and read studies about the incredible healing benefits of art and culture-based practices and therapies for mental health patients. Thanks to the pandemic, we also have overwhelming evidence of the important role cultural experiences have in society, creating opportunities for people to “gather around the good stuff,” build community, engage with one another, and much more. So, take heart in knowing the creative sector is a critical part of the solution to tackling the mental health crisis in America!
While you provide hope, healing, and solace in Montgomery County for others, I urge you to please set aside time to care for yourself and your staff. Nonprofit leaders around the country are implementing new strategies and policies to create safe work environments that support their staff as both employees and individuals deal with the stresses and pressures of life.
These ideas range from sharing resources and integrating mental health habits to establishing a culture of fairness and implementing restoration weeks. Actions such as these empower your team to focus on themselves and seek help to remain healthy and whole. Remember, daily self-care and work-life balance routines also go a long way to maintaining your peace, rejuvenating your spirit, and cultivating a healthy mindset. Take a mental health walk with our friends at EveryMind in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month or stroll through Brookside Gardens to immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of nature and art, including our newest mural by regional artist Osbel Susman-Pena.
We at the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County are rooting for you to live your life to the fullest and will continue supporting you in every way we can.