PeaceLove activity brings joy to Bradley Hospital.

August 3, 2014

At Philip Stein we are always looking for like minded companies or organisations to collaborate with. In PeaceLove, we have found a charity that we were proud to get behind and collaborate with. Their mission to improve quality of life by aiding mental illness through creative expression has been truly inspirational for us at Philip Stein and falls perfectly in line with our own Philosophy. As mentioned in Philip Stein World previously we sponsored PeaceLove in May of this year, to help raise awareness for Mental health month and held an initiative that allowed mentally ill Children at Bradley Hospital to express themselves creatively, by designing strap design for our PeaceLove watch collection. The programming was a huge success (check out the insight report, right) and we look forward to working with PeaceLove again in the future. We recently had a chance to catch up with Amy Kinney, the programme director at Peacelove to discuss everything from the origins of Peacelove to the future of the company.

Amy Kinney, Director of PeaceLove Wellness Program at Bradley Hospital, tells us more about Peacelove and the impact of this project. Read interview below.

Can you tell us more about your relationship with Bradley Hospital?

We’ve been working with Bradley Hospital for about 3 years now. Bradley was the first mental health hospital for children and it is entirely devoted to helping children with psychiatric and behavior disabilities. PeaceLove goes there once a week to run programming with the different units. It is an alternative to some of the other programs at the hospital and gives the children a form of creative expression as well as an introduction to a community resource.

How do you feel creative expression can help with mental illness?

It can help people to communicate emotions that they are unable to express in other ways. It can be difficult to talk about your emotions at times but sometimes acting them out or creating a piece of visual art work can help. Creative expression enables people to express things in a safe way and helps to get feelings out instead of keeping them bottled up inside. Moreover, the long term impact is teaching coping skills that can be used on a daily basis. Art gives those with mental illness new tools for self-expression. Emotions are very difficult to express and having tools that you can use to talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling is extremely valuable.

What were the reactions to the Philip Stein activity?

The activity was about creating time for yourself to create peace of mind. We talked about how we often don’t put time in our life to do the things that are beneficial for us. The activity made the kids stop and think, “what does make me feel better and how can I make sure to do more of that in my life.” It was a very grounding and calming activity for most of them. They enjoyed coloring and taking time to think about what makes them feel good.

What changes have you witnessed in people that have participated in the PeaceLove program?

There are people who have participated who start out feeling hopeless and alone but by learning to express themselves in a safe way come to find friendships, value and worth in their life. People who participate in PeaceLove begin to find new meaning and purpose. For example we had a woman who was really struggling, was in and out of hospital and really feeling that she was all alone in the world. Now after a year of taking part in PeaceLove programming she has developed friendships and self worth. She is going back to school and has a very different outlook on life.

Would you say that society is well educated when it come to mental health?

Absolutely not. There is a lot of stigma and misunderstanding surrounding mental illness. Some people even believe that those who have a mental illness are dangerous, when in fact most people with mental illness are just struggling to stay well. Two/thirds of people with mental illness will not seek treatment because of the stigma surrounding it. As a society we don’t talk about mental illness, how it impacts people or how it can be treated. Without open conversation about it, people continue to be undereducated about it.

What are the challenges that you have as an organization?

The greatest challenge we face is that there is so much social stigma surrounding mental illness. We are talking about something that people are afraid to talk about. Mental health is how we take care of our minds and it is something that we all need to do. Our programs are not just for people with mental illness but for promoting mental health foreveryone. Society is very open to talk about physical health and going to the gym to work out is quite normal. But people are afraid to say “I’m going to take care of my mental health today” because it could imply something shameful about you. Having open conversations about mental health and mental illness has been our greatest obstacle but is also the most important part of what we do.

What other initiatives do you have planned for the future?

We work with veterans and are trying to grow the reach of that program. We are also looking to increase our involvement in schools as mental health issues often begin to develop in adolescence. We want to talk with them about issues of mental health and mental illness in a way that is open and honest. Adults in their lives are often so afraid of talking about mental illness that they just don’t acknowledge it. We want to reach youth earlier when the issues of mental health are in the early stages of development.

Click here to find out more about PeaceLove.