Creative way to deal with mental health challenges


IN conjunction with World Mental Health Day, members of My Kolektif — a Malaysian Mental Health Arts Collective — hosted its “Creative Release Series” that was also in support of Women’s Aid Organisation.

My Kolektif is made up of individuals who have experienced mental struggles and banded together to create artworks about their stories.

Tan Su Mei, a My Kolektif member based in Melbourne, Australia, said the Creative Release Series aimed to start conversations about the link between art and mental health, adding that some of the collective’s members could not afford clinical services pertaining to psychiatry and psychology, as well as medication that could be costly.

The first instalment of a series of events taking place this month was held online last weekend.

A discussion titled “Mental Health x Alternative Healing Circle” brought to light the role of creativity in the realm of mental health.

The speakers included art psychotherapist Dana Kaarina, counsellor Lynnette Chai, creative communications specialist Natasha MH, artist Sharon Chin as well as indigenous rights activist and artist Shaq Koyok.

My Kolektif member Liya Red was the moderator.

Each speaker spoke on the different approaches and practices adopted during their creative process to create a state of relaxation that would help them gain insight while working towards societal change.

Participants of the online discussion were invited to pose questions and share their knowledge, to explore the various traditions and role of art in helping maintain one’s sanity.

The Creative Release Workshop segment, another online event, was led by Tan who is also an art therapist and yoga instructor.

The workshop involved exploring practical mindfulness tools such as journaling, breathing techniques, movement and exercise, body posture as well as expression to help individuals find ways to cope with anxiety and stress.

“Last year, we launched My Kolektif through an exhibition on our website.

“The exhibition featured several members’ artworks, including drawings and paintings as well as videos, performance work, poetry and writings.“This was a way of displaying the collective’s creative process to the world, as many of us use art as a form of expression as well as to heal and process difficult moments in our lives, ” Tan explained.

“Making art is something that can be used with or without clinical therapies.

“It is something anyone can do in the comfort of their own home.”

The peer component of My Kolektif aims to provide a community for people with mental health struggles.

“Some close friendships have formed from this process while working towards raising mental health awareness, ” Tan noted.

The Creative Release Series events will continue today, where current My Kolektif members will discuss the collective’s future.

An open mic session will also be held where professional and amateur performers will present poetry, songs and mimes relating to mental health.

World Mental Health Day was celebrated on Oct 10.

For details on My Kolektif’s Creative Release Series or Women’s Aid Organisation, visit

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Mental Health , My Kolektif , Art Therapy


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