Day job >>View Video>>
I’ve been working in a university for the last 15 years now and while it’s not necessarily a ‘creative job’ that I have, it is a very creative environment and I get to meet amazingly creative and innovative people.
My role is to support student societies in their creative endeavours; we give them support, space and a safety net to be able to be as creative and innovative as they want to be without too many restrictions.
We support them around funding applications and grants also to carry out these creative projects and push the envelope, and if it fails that’s ok too! There is so much value in simply trying and if it fails they are in a ‘safe place’ to test things out. We offer the resources and are there if they need advice, but then we sit back and let them do the rest and the results can be amazing. I have witnessed over the years how being access to support can free people up to focus on being really creative in whatever expression that is.
I became aware how challenging it must be in the creative sector to not have the type of support system that we provide at the university but I wasn’t really trying to do anything about it until I got involved with First Fortnight about seven years ago.
First fortnight is a mental health and arts charity, which runs a festival for the first two weeks of every year using creativity and the arts to start conversations around mental health and to challenge stigma and prejudice around mental health.
Dave Reid >>View Video>>
I met some truly wonderful people through First Fortnight including the Minding Creative Minds founder Dave Reid. When Dave suggested this idea of a wellbeing support system for creatives, I kinda thought, “Wow that’s it, that needs to happen”. It exists for other industries, and I have seen from my job how valuable it can be. So immediately I thought, “Wow if I can play any part in this, then I really want to do that”.
I know first-hand how a suite of supports can really help people to flourish and as a fan and an audience member at every opportunity who benefits so much from people’s creative outputs, for me to be able to have some part in offering supports to help them with that then I was straight in there; if I could help out I would. So that’s how I got involved with Minding Creative Minds and I was delighted then when Dave asked me to be on the board. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be involved in it since it started.
Spectrum Life >>View Video>>
We teamed up with Spectrum Life who provide Minding Creative Minds with a very comprehensive package including access to 400 counsellors nationwide, a helpline, career and legal advice etc.
It was important to us that Spectrum provided support 24/7 and it was available all year round so that it wasn’t limited to times when, as an artist, you might be catching up on sleep because you’ve been in the studio ‘til 4 o’clock in the morning or you might be on tour so how are you going to get to your appointment with your therapist at the same time every week.
We wanted there to be a phone number people can ring 24/7 when they come off the stage or when they’re coming back from the studio late at night so that there were no limits to when they could get the support.
I was particularly impressed that Spectrum offered more than just mental health supports – which is obviously really, really important and that’s something that I’m really keen to champion. But Minding Creative Minds is not just about ringing somebody up when you really feel like you need mental health supports, it’s for day-to-day use with access to whatsapp and online chat as well as the counselling sessions. Somebody’s there if you need advice on a legal matter or a career matter or a financial planning matter, if you’re having issues in general around day to day stresses that can limit your overall wellbeing.
Masters in psychotherapy >>View Video>>
I’m currently finishing my masters in psychotherapy. It’s an area that I’ve been interested in moving into for years but I had always gotten sidetracked with something else. The timing was finally right and I am really enjoying it.
For me, both being involved with Minding Creative Minds as well as working as a psychotherapist is a great balance, because I want to be involved in face to face therapy but I also want to remain involved in mental health advocacy as well as promoting access to mental health supports.
I now have more awareness around mental health supports and what speaking to someone when you need to can really can offer. I’m keen to do what I can to show others the benefits and encourage them to utlise mental health and wellbeing support when they are made available to them. Continuing to challenge the barriers to getting the help needed, such as stigma, affordability and accessibility.
Early days >>View Video>>
It’s such early days and I have a lot of hopes that Minding Creative Minds will continue to grow over the next while and that people in the creative sector will see it as their support service. It’s also really important that people are aware that Minding Creative Minds is not just for creatives in the sense of musicians and artists, writers, painters and photographers etc but it’s also for the people who enable creative output – the managers, the event planners, the event organisers, the venue bookers, all of the people that make up the creative sector in Ireland. It is such a strong sector and this is one piece of it that may have been missing.
We’re very lucky that Minding Creative Minds was ready to go in time to support people through the last year but we really want to make sure that this is something that continues supporting the creative sector well into the future and that it reduces those barriers to having a creative career and that it helps people within the sector to develop their creativity.
Potential >>View Video>>
I’m very excited by the potential of Minding Creative Minds especially with the partners that we have and with the support that we’re getting within the industry. I can see the desire that‘s there from some within the industry to do better by the creative sector, to be there a bit more, to look after artists and musicians and all of the amazing creative people that we have in Ireland. This can only lead to good things, it can only lead to more creativity and I can see things starting to shift.
Beyond growing the service of supports my hope is that we’re not just expecting people to get up on the stage, or to produce something, for them to give, that they are actually being looked after and valued within the sector between those points in their process. For example I’d love to see areas backstage at a gig or a festival where people in the creative sector can go to just get away or get support, switch off or do a meditation session and step away for a moment. I can imagine the pressure when you are performing or if there is an experience of doubt or anti-climax after you’ve performed there could be an alternative to going to the bar for example. If you are not in a great place emotionally but you’re stuck at a gig, I’d like there to be a space where people can go backstage and get support or just breath before you go back out into the throngs at a festival for example
From speaking to people in the creative industry, that question always seems to be prevalent, “Will I make it?” It’s a hard slog, it’s not like you’re going into a regular nine to five with all of the supports that come with that.
A creative career is a challenge to pursue and sustain but it’s so worthwhile and the last thing we would want is for people to avoid getting into that sector because they don’t feel like they have any supports or they don’t feel like they have someone behind them that they could go to when they really need it.
The going-it-alone for a lot of creative people has its ups but it also has its downs and I would hope that the support system that we have put in place, and the community that we’re working to establish, not only challenges those barriers but enables people to be as creative as they could possibly be.
Remember, if you’re a member of the Irish creative industry, you can talk to a counsellor free of charge at any time of the day or night. Simply call the phone number below.