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The Art of Mental Health

Can those of us interested in supporting mental health consumers and carers look to art to improve our understanding and empathy of the experiences of others? More information at meta4RN.com/art
by

Paul McNamara

on 9 March 2015

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Transcript of The Art of Mental Health

“Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.”

Can a song improve our empathy and understanding of nursing the person with
dementia
?
Sigmund Freud
1856-1939
watch & listen to "
Veronica
" by Elvis Costello

"Veronica" lyrics by Elvis Costello & Paul McCartney

Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?
What goes on in that place in the dark?
Well I used to know a girl and I would have sworn that her name was Veronica
Well she used to have a carefree mind of her own and a delicate look in her eye
These days I'm afraid she's not even sure if her name is Veronica

[Chorus:]
Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout her name and steal her clothes
Veronica
Veronica

Did the days drag by? Did the favours wane?
Did he roam down the town all the time?
Will you wake from your dream, with a wolf at the door, reaching out for Veronica
Well it was all of sixty-five years ago
When the world was the street where she lived
And a young man sailed on a ship in the sea
With a picture of Veronica

On the "Empress of India"
And as she closed her eyes upon the world and picked upon the bones of last week's news
She spoke his name outloud again

[Chorus]

Veronica sits in her favourite chair and she sits very quiet and still
And they call her a name that they never get right and if they don't then nobody else will
But she used to have a carefree mind of her own, with devilish look in her eye
Saying "You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica"

[Chorus]
Who are the lyrics highlighted in
yellow
referring to?
Can a song improve our empathy and understanding of nursing the person with
depression
?
listen to "
Dog
" by Andy Bull with Lisa Mitchell
here are the lyrics:
"
Dog
" lyrics by Andy Bull

This old black dog is hounding me
It waits ‘round the corner and hides in the trees
I feel the chill of something blown in on a breeze

In the light of a cinema screen I hide
Laughing I only feel empty inside
Crying means nothing, I’ve nothing to say
I wish I could kick this old black dog away

And the worst part is knowing my part in it all
Yeah the worst part is knowing its nothing at all

Oh if I can pull myself together I’ll try
I can’t explain the tear that sits in my eye
I try to outsmart him but somehow he knows
Wherever I am, that fucking dog goes
I’ll kill him the next time I swear I won’t fail
I’ll kick in his ribs and I’ll rip off his tail

And the worst part is thinking it’s something it’s not
Yeah the worst part is thinking it might never stop

Oh if I can pull myself together I’ll try
I can’t explain the tear that sits in my eye

And the worst part is trying to explain it to you
The worst part is knowing there’s nothing to do

Oh if I can pull myself together I’ll try
Oh but I cant explain the tear that sits in my eye

If I can pull myself together I’ll try
Oh if I can’t pull myself together I’ll die
What does Andy Bull identify as the
worst part
of experiencing depression?

The
last line
of the song is the most concerning line in the song.
Why?
Can an illustrated book improve our empathy and understanding of nursing the person with
depression
?
Andy Bull isn't the only one who uses "the
black dog
" as a metaphor for depression.

Google this:
Winston Churchill black dog

Explore this website:
www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

And, next, see how
Matthew Johnstone
used his creative skills in illustration and writing to reimagine his experience of depression:



watch and listen to "
I had a black dog, his name was depression
" by Matthew Johnstone
listen to "Neighbourhood #2 (
Laika
)" by Arcade Fire
"Neighborhood #2 (
Laika
)" by Arcade Fire

Alexander, our older brother
Set out for a great adventure
He tore our images out of his pictures
He scratched our names out of all his letters

Our mother should've just named you Laika...

Come on, Alex. You can do it!
Come on, Alex. There's nothing to it!
If you want something, don't ask for nothing!
If you want nothing, don't ask for something!

Our mother should've just named you Laika...
It's for your own good
It's for the neighborhood...
The neighborhood!

Our older brother bit by a vampire
For a year, we caught his tears in a cup
And now we're gonna make him drink it
Come on, Alex. Don't die or dry up!

Our mother should've just named you Laika
It's for your own good
It's for the neighborhood...
The neighborhood!

When daddy comes home, you always start a fight
So the neighbors can dance in the police disco lights

The police disco lights
Now the neighbors can dance!
The police disco lights
Now the neighbors can dance!
"
Laika
" was the name of a stray dog found in Moscow.
She was the first animal to orbit earth.
She died in flight.
meta
4
RN
.com/art

Imagine these lyrics have been written by the sibling of a person who experiences a severe and relapsing mental health problem.

The line "
Our mother should've just named you Laika
" suggests a loss of hope.

The lines "
It's for your own good. It's for the neighbourhood.
" suggest that the person has poor insight and judgement.

Can you name any local agencies or services available to
support carers of mental health consumers
?


What diagnosis does Edvard Munch's painting "
The Scream
" suggest to you?
What songs, poems, books, music and visual
art
will
inform
and
sustain
your
clinical practice
?
listen to "
Dog
" by Andy Bull (feat. Lisa Mitchell)
Full transcript