If you've been around awhile, you may have caught a few posts I’ve made sharing about my own personal struggles with my mental health, and there is more that I haven't shared. Normalizing and teaching our youth ways to process our emotions, seek help when needed and to simply understand that it is NORMAL to not feel normal is immensely important, especially at a time like now. I used to see my struggles as flaws and ways that made me less great than someone who didn’t struggle. I was embarrassed at the additional things I needed to complete the same task as someone else. But as I got older, I learned that these things I considered to be flaws, were, in fact, details that offered me a different perspective of life than someone else. I value my journey through mental health as it has allowed me to serve others in ways I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
The physical act of crocheting and being creative in other ways has unexpectedly introduced an opportunity for me to process my internal thoughts in ways that are much more difficult than when we are completing tasks and being distracted. I have found that when I am actively participating in something that I truly and genuinely enjoy, it provides a kind of personal healing moment and I want to share that feeling with everyone. The physical act of repetitious stitches allows my hands to have a chance to "fidget" and my mind to end up working through what's on my mind - and not in a Mark Zuckerberg kind of way. I have found that this is my prime chance to spend time with myself and figure out how I feel about things that have transpired, conversations that were had, upcoming events and all of the things in between. During this time I choose to listen to what's bothering me, figure out why it's bothering me, find a solution to the problem so I can have one less thing on my plate so I can continue to move forward despite the tribulations that arise.
Creativity is a gift to yourself and our next generation deserves to hear us share how they can use these resources to responsibly manage our emotions, spend time with ourselves and explore more about who we are without external expectations. Everyone deserves to feel proud to be themselves, and crochet has done that for me.
May is Mental Health Awareness month and JOANN is partnering with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to support the On Our Sleeves® movement. On Our Sleeves is the movement to transform children’s mental health and aims to provide every community in America with free resources to break the stigma surrounding child mental health. During the months of May, June and July we will be collecting monetary donations at the registers in all of their stores to benefit On Our Sleeves.
Working with the behavioral health team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, JOANN has curated projects for families focusing on the four areas of emotional empowerment: Identifying emotions, recognizing emotions in yourself and others, expressing emotions appropriately, and regulating strong emotions through coping strategies. Information on the projects, fundraising and partnership can be found at joann.com/onoursleeves
About On Our Sleeves:
One in five children is living with mental illness and 50% of all lifetime mental illness starts by age 14. Yet, there is still stigma around this national health crisis. On Our Sleeves® was launched by Nationwide Children’s Hospital to build a national movement in support of children through advocacy, education and research.
What is the mission of On Our Sleeves?
The mission of On Our Sleeves is to provide every community in America access to free, evidenced-based educational resources necessary for breaking stigmas about child mental health as well as educating families and advocates.
What does On Our Sleeves mean?
We can’t look at someone and know what they are going through – especially a child who may not be able to fully communicate what they are thinking and feeling. On Our Sleeves takes a classic saying (“We don’t wear our heart on our sleeves”) and shows what a child or teen may be thinking and feeling by showing graphics that illustrate thoughts and feelings associated with mental health.
How will donations to On Our Sleeves be used?
Gifts of any size make the On Our Sleeves mission possible – to provide every community in America access to free, evidenced-based educational resources for children’s mental wellness. Gifts fund educational content, lesson plans for schools and activities for schools and organizations.
How do I get involved?
The On Our Sleeves Alliance works to amplify the cause of children’s mental health through the voices and actions of leading corporations, youth-serving organizations and health care organizations across the country. The Alliance works to empower the mental health and wellness of every child in America through the distribution of free, evidenced-based resources necessary for breaking stigmas and educating families and advocates.
Additional Resources on the Benefits of Crafting and Mental Health:
I spoke with an Art Therapist at NCH, the information below is geared towards art therapy outcomes but many of these articles include the overall benefits of creating art in a medical setting. Please let me know if you have any questions and if this information will work for what 4-H is trying to achieve.
Art Therapy Defined:
Art Therapy is an evidence-based treatment that utilizes a variety of art media and psychology based processes in order to reach therapeutic goals and improve overall quality of life. Art therapy relies more on imagery and symbols, decreasing the intimidation or anxiety that may arise from the use of verbal communication alone. Art mirrors the inner life of the artist and we may discover the client through their decision-making, interactions, creative behaviors, and material use. Art Therapists are nationally accredited professionals, completing a masters degree program and national board registration and certification. Art Therapy in Pediatrics: The use of art therapy has been studied in patients with different medical conditions. For children with cancer, there is evidence that art therapy reduces anxiety, depression, and pain and improves quality of life. Results show that children who participate in art therapy may better express underlying emotions, develop more effective coping skills, and experience fewer adverse side effects. Art therapy also helps children communicate with caregivers which can lead to improved care and better medical outcomes.
Here are some articles and studies specifically with arts and art therapy that I have on hand:
Art Therapy improves mood, reduces pain and anxiety
Creative Arts Therapy improves quality of life
Arts in healthcare has a positive impact on patient health outcomes
Art, healing, and Public Health
Art Therapy in Pediatric oncology: Literature Review
I highly encourage each of you to visit your local JOANN Store to support this immensely helpful and supportive cause. This is something that is near and dear to my heart and I want to thank you in advance for supporting our future generations in helping them get the help I didn’t receive as a child. We are a community - and I am so grateful for you. Together we can make a difference!