Painting a picture: College to host art exhibit depicting realities of mental illness

Artbeat Studio exhibit

Red River College will play host to an exhibition from Artbeat Studio this week, providing staff and students with opportunities to see and understand the realities of mental illness.

Running Tue., Oct. 3 at the Notre Dame Campus, and Thu., Oct. 5, at the Roblin Centre downtown, the exhibit is one of several events planned to mark Mental Illness Awareness Week, the aim of which is to raise awareness of — and reduce the stigma surrounding — mental health-related issues.

“As a post-secondary institution focused on the health and well-being of staff and students, the College believes Mental Illness Awareness Week is an important initiative to be engaged in,” says Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator at RRC.

“Our priority is to create opportunities for the entire College community to learn more about mental health through education, and to foster a safe, responsive and supportive environment in which to talk about mental illness and how it impacts those we study and work with.”

Other events taking place this week include a presentation on strategies for coping with anxiety (delivered by the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba), and another on schizophrenia and psychosis, delivered by the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society.

This year’s programming expands on previous efforts to raise awareness of the many community supports available to staff and students, among them Artbeat Studio, a peer-directed, recovery-oriented program providing studio space and mentorship to artists living with mental illnesses.

“We are pleased to join Red River College this year, and to offer opportunities for students to speak to our alumni about how art can save lives,” says Christine Strike, Artbeat’s Community Projects Coordinator.

“Our vision is to talk to those experiencing mental illness and say it’s okay to take a pause in life and go through a program like Artbeat Studio — and to engage in artistic expression, which we believe promotes recovery, empowerment and community.”

“It’s imperative to create a dialogue around mental illness to reduce the stigma and show people they are not alone.”

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is a week-long public education campaign running from Oct. 1–7. Scheduled events at RRC include:

Tue., Oct. 3:

  • Artbeat Exhibit — 12-2pm, Library Hallway, Notre Dame Campus

Wed., Oct. 4:

  • Coping with Anxiety – 12-1pm, Orange Lecture Theatre, Notre Dame Campus
  • Coping with Anxiety – 12-1pm, P107, Exchange District Campus (Roblin Centre)

Thu., Oct. 5:

  • ArtBeat Exhibit — 12-2pm, Roblin Centre Atrium, Exchange District Campus
  • All About Schizophrenia — 11am-12pm, White Lecture Theatre, Notre Dame Campus