ECBC spoke to Heather, a local designer, about her career, mental health experience and how she’s helping promote wellbeing in and around Manchester.
My name is Heather Skowood and I am a visual artist/designer/maker based in Levenshulme. To keep healthy mentally and physically I try to eat well, make time for rest and extra sleep as well as make art everyday.
One of the things I realized when I was suffering with depression and anxiety was that I wasn’t making art. As an artist being creative and making things is like oxygen, if I don’t create I suffocate. I also realized that this is true for most people. The satisfaction of making something with your own hands for yourself or someone else satisfies a lot of emotional needs. So I started making again and now I offer creative workshops in my home studio and with community groups.
A few years ago I decided to address some depression/anxiety issues I was having by starting on a self-care journey. This journey included talking therapy, seeing my GP and mindful art therapy at The Owl and the Coconut located in The Old Levenshulme Library.
The mindful art therapy and mediation helped me so profoundly that it helped me realize how much I missed teaching art, collaborating with others and the power of art. I am not an art therapist but I have taught jewellery making and creative arts for 20 years and it’s a very special thing to see some learn a new creative skill that they didn’t think they could do before. It is very true that art has the power to heal and bring people together.
The mental health services are under enormous pressure, they are working with very little resources because of the lack of funds. It’s heartbreaking because those who work in this area care so much and risk their own health to help their patients. And those suffering are not getting all the support they need due to the services being underfunded or completely cut. I believe it’s the government who is failing us not the mental health services.
Currently I’m making contacts with my local Levenshulme community groups to offer more creative workshops for people of all ages. In my home studio I offer screen-printing and upcycled jewellery workshops and will be adding more workshops in the New Year. I’m really excited about 2020 and collaborating with new people.
If you would like to share your experience of living with a mental illness or what you are currently doing to help those living with a mental illness please do get in touch.