Photography as a Balm for Mental Illness

Posted on July 31, 2014

To the casual observer, Danielle Hark was living an enviable life, with a devoted husband, a new baby and work she enjoyed as a freelance photo editor. But she was so immobilized by depression that she could barely get out of bed.

Two years ago, on one of her worst days, something different happened. "I was literally on the bathroom floor, bawling," she said. "But I picked up my phone and started taking pictures - paint peeling on the door, reflections in the mirror. It just took a couple of minutes for me to become more present, breathing more normally. It was a really important moment."

That experience led her to create the Broken Light Collective, an online gallery intended to provide a supportive environment for photographers affected by mental illness. The site now has contributors from 150 countries, struggling with disorders like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress, borderline personality disorder and eating disorders.

An artistic activity such as photography is "literally and figuratively enlivening," according to Ellen J. Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard and author of "On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity." "When people are depressed, they tend to retreat from the world. Noticing things in the camera puts you in the present moment, makes you sensitive to context and perspective, and that's the essence of engagement. I have years of research telling us how good that is for health and well-being."

Click on the link below to read the full article


Category(s):Depression

Source material from New York Times


Mental Health News