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Musings on Mental Health

This week at Chaptr, we – like most of the UK – have been musing on mental health. 

Our focus has been twofold. 

Health starts at home

First, we’re keenly aware of the impact of stress on our team. As the British Psychological Society reminds us that stress is bad for us and HuffPo shares their top 10-minute self-esteem workout, we decided to take a slightly different approach. Chaptr has always been founded on the principle that people come first. Our core values demonstrate our commitment to helping our team do their best work while living their best lives. We exist to serve organisations that inspire us with their artistry and talent, and that means building a team of inspiring, talented individuals to achieve so much more than just the sum of our parts. To ensure that each of us is looking after ourselves and each other and delivering the best we can as a team, we’ve started a series of Lunch & Learn sessions to help everyone in the team share what they’re learning and what they’re passionate about, and keep everyone at Chaptr at the cutting edge of their game.

What better place to start than team dynamics? Building on Patrick Lencioni’s seminal “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, we explored the importance of trust and vulnerability, healthy confrontation, and commitment to a shared vision. We’re only halfway through this discussion and already, it’s been gratifying to see the healthy debate and open conversations that have germinated as a result. While most of the team agreed that these fundamentals of functional teams are clearly evident at Chaptr, it’s been a useful time to take stock of what makes us tick, and remind ourselves of the important fundamentals that define who we are and how we work together.

Our reflections haven’t been solely inward-focused, however.

Mental health and arts and culture

Our second reflection has been on the key role the arts play in mental health. Whether it’s music, fine art, dance, theatre, film, photography, design or anything in between, creative expression is vital to healthy culture and sound mental health. Studies show that both creating and enjoying arts of all kinds reduce cortisol and other stress indicators. 

What’s more, there’s a neurobiological basis for arts in culture. Essentially, we create because we’re human. Artistic expression is an innately human thing to do. It unifies and heals us. It shapes and expresses us. It tells our stories and unfolds our destinies. 

While some may say art reflects life, we’re more inclined to believe that art IS life in a very real sense: it’s the golden thread that runs through history and all of human existence.

Last week, we expressed our dismay and, frankly, outrage at the proposed slashing of the art education budget

We’re still reeling. 

How can it be thinkable that an industry that contributes almost £3 billion in taxable revenue each year and more than 360,000 jobs is the target of this kind of misguided belt-tightening, at a time when people need the arts and all they offer more than ever before?

The good news is that the fight is not over. It’s not too late to stand up and be part of the solution. 

Part of the solution

Not long ago, we were proud to partner with our friends CVAN England to support their Art Is Essential campaign. Now, this vital message is being championed through their website and campaign, and you can be part of it, too. Join us and make your voice heard via their open letter to the Secretary of Education, here.


Header photo by Finn on Unsplash