Woonona psychologist Nick Marsden is making mental health a conversation starter

A northern Illawarra clinical psychologist is using different forms of art to spark conversations surrounding mental health.

Dr Nick Marsden has curated his first exhibition, Illuminate, for mental health week and was surprised by the large number of Illawarra creatives who asked if they could be involved with the project at Moving Mountains Gallery in Wollongong.

“The wellbeing of our community is dependent on all of us coming together and having open, honest, and frank conversations about mental illness,” Dr Marsden said.

“A lot of people have either either experienced mental health issues or have had a close friend who’s experienced mental health issues.”

We can use the deeply moving and meaningful mediums of art to create awareness and help others.

Dr Nick Marsden

Paintings, sculptures, drawings, poetry, Indigenous artwork and live performance will all shed light on people’s struggles, their sympathy for watching loved ones struggle and their interpretation of mental illness.

The idea came from a London exhibition Dr Marsden visited where the artist had painted every day whilst in hospital, illustrating their recovery through severe mental illness.

Dr Nick Marsden with artworks by Zac Bennett Brooke. He says mental health is close to Mr Bennett Brooke's heart after a friend he used to collaborate with took his own life. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Dr Nick Marsden with artworks by Zac Bennett Brooke. He says mental health is close to Mr Bennett Brooke's heart after a friend he used to collaborate with took his own life. Picture: Sylvia Liber

“It was just fascinating to see this representation of recovery,” he said.

“We can use the deeply moving and meaningful mediums of art to create awareness and help others to move in the direction of emotional wellbeing.”

It’s estimated just 45 per cent of people with a mental health problem seek professional help, according to the Australian Psychological Society.

The most common disorders are anxiety, depression and substance abuse. While the World Health Organisation says depression is the leading cause of disability globally.

Illuminate (which runs on Thursday October 12 and Friday October 13) is one of several events happening around Wollongong this week.

'Desserts and Depression' - one of the artworks on show at Illuminate, Moving Mountains Gallery in Wollongong. Picture: Supplied

'Desserts and Depression' - one of the artworks on show at Illuminate, Moving Mountains Gallery in Wollongong. Picture: Supplied

headspace Wollongong opened it’s new home with yoga, open mic sessions and an Indigenous smoking ceremony on Monday.

This Wednesday A Visual Journey of Recovery – an exhibition of works undertaken by South Coast Private patients participating in art therapy classes – opens at Wollongong Art Gallery, with the pieces on show until November 6.

Founder of Bushwalk The Gong blog Jenae Johnston will speak about her struggle with Post Natal Depression and how getting outdoors has helped at The Women’s Adventure Film Tour screening at the University of Wollongong on Thursday.

Wollongong Art Gallery artist in residence Jill Darville is hosting a FREE panel discussion at the gallery reflecting on trauma with speakers from support groups, Police Legacy, psychotherapy and someone from a refugee background this Saturday.

If you or someone you know needs help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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Wollongong Art Gallery artist in residence Jill Darville will host a FREE 'Reflections on Trauma' panel discussion at the gallery on Saturday October 14 from 1pm - 2:30pm. Book online at www.eventbrite.com.au Picture: Robert Peet

Wollongong Art Gallery artist in residence Jill Darville will host a FREE 'Reflections on Trauma' panel discussion at the gallery on Saturday October 14 from 1pm - 2:30pm. Book online at www.eventbrite.com.au Picture: Robert Peet