Mental health month stories: Let's talk about it? Go to hell! Preferably with a song.

No, the title is not meant to send someone off in a polite way. Instead, it was inspired by a project in which we bring light to the topic of mental health and well-being restoration through three important dimensions - community and social relations, nature and creation.

That is why it will be possible to see the third episode of the recently recorded ´´Botik Live Sessions with Maris Pihlap´´ on the big screen in the Botik bar on October 26th. The contribution collected through the ticket fees will this time go to the NGO Peaasjad, which contributes to bring awareness of mental health problems among young people in Estonia.

It is good to look at and describe an invisible elephant.

October is the global health month, where there are many events in Botik and other places as well where you can read, discuss, participate and reflect on this topic a lot. By the way, you can read more about the events and register to participate on the website

Going back a decade, for example, mental health problems were mainly just talk on the table of organizations looking for activities or solutions. It wasn't everyday that a friend or loved one honestly admitted to having a mental health problem or asked for a referral to a good therapist.

People suffered in silence, and in many ways precisely because around them there was mostly ... silence on this topic. How to recognize the root cause of a health problem that can manifest itself in an invisible, impermanent and sometimes untreatable form. Explaining what is happening in us means first of all to recognize and describe it internally.

Through the development that has taken place around us, the growth of awareness and the emergence of vocabulary, today we can better understand our own and others mental health and well-being issues and know how to find help. And although this cannot be said about all regions and people, in the grand scheme of things, the picture is better today precisely because the "invisible elephant" in our midst - mental health and its problems - was described thoroughly, clearly and without taboo.

Relief and stimulation of being in nature

In addition to feeling and describing the problem, it is also important to be able to guide yourself towards solutions. Of course, mental health as a whole is a very broad topic, and no single recipe can be given for all its challenges. However, there are many studies that lead to a couple of basic, mental health-boosting solutions with results. Let's start with nature.

Here are some exciting examples of the discoveries of University of Tartu community development and social welfare master's students:

  • The inflammation and stress-related indicators of subjects who took forest bathing were significantly better than those who enjoyed city life;
  • Observing elements of nature creates positive emotions and feelings such as interest, pleasure and peace, and has a restorative effect, an effect that relieves our post-stress alertness both psychologically and physiologically;
  • The attention restoration theory from the 1980s confirms that people's concentration improves after being in nature or after watching natural scenes, because it contains a lot of "soft delights" - clouds moving in the sky , leaves rustling in the wind and water gurgling in the stream do not require intense attention. Outdoor natural environments promote calmer and more attentive behavior compared to closed spaces.
  • By studying the effect of nature on cognitive abilities, it has been found that when comparing people walking on a city street and in greenery, it is easier to solve tasks related to working memory after being in a natural environment (Kass, Madalvee et., 2022).

It is safe to say that going to the forest and inviting others to join you is a great way to maintain and restore mental well-being. It is also possible to find green spots in the urban space in the form of parks and groves, where you can take time out for a quick walk and return to normal life more rested.

Clarify your thoughts through creativity

Along with nature, any creative activity that gives us a break from everyday chores and helps us express our thoughts, wishes and feelings has an important place. Surely most have heard of art therapy as the strategic use of art in a therapeutic context.

Art does not set limits and allows you to express yourself more easily, which is why it has a calming effect and relieves stress. Art therapy is divided into visual art, music, drama and movement therapy. Although these art forms use different senses and modalities, they all give a break to our rational, sometimes even overly deliberate and hasty thinking and switch the brain to a creative and calmer frequency.

Art also provides comfort and support to its observer-experiencer. The exhibition ´´How can art help? Paintings and Stories of Special People´´ opened in Pärnu. Exhibition brings into focus the mental health issues and stories of anonymous authors, which affect us all to a greater or lesser extent. The authors have chosen to deal with a difficult situation in their lives by doing art: any creation may help you out of the black hole. Even in a war situation, more people will survive who are engaged in some kind of art, which would help to channel thoughts and energy into new creation, not destruction. (2)

Sharing stories in the community creates a feeling of togetherness

So you could go to the forest with dance and song instead. Or sit on its edge with a brush in your finger and try to capture a picture of the greenery. As part of mental health month, we are also bringing a space to Botik to share your stories with the community. This time, Botik Live Sessions artist Maris Pihlap will present her creations from the album "The Search for Life Within" at the video concert, and we can also hear from her more about the background story of the album and her reflections on one's inner world.

The joint viewing of the video concert is preceded by an introduction where we talk about slightly deeper topics and look for answers to the question of how community and creativity can create prosperity. After the concert, Maris will do a short summary and a round of open questions, and we will enjoy the continuation.

If you can't make it, you can also watch the concert on YouTube at the same time as it starts (October 26 at 19:30). So grab a supporter's ticket from Fienta, put the date in your calendar and we'll meet in the Botik to enjoy the support of the community, the yellowing nature in the garden and the beautiful creations of Maris!

You can also find more information about the event on Facebook:

Used sources:

  1. Tervist! (2022, august 2). Looduse positiivsest mõjust vaimsele ja füüsilisele heaolule.

  2. Pärnu Postimees. Jürisson, A.( 2022, oktoober 12). Näitus, mis aitab ellu jääda.

 Botik Live Sessions brings authentic and value-based music experiences to the virtual world with the help of volunteers

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