Art installation promotes mental health

Called Intangible Goods, it is dubbed an experimental line of conveniently-packaged "consumables for the mind."
Art installation promotes mental health

According to the World Health Organization, common mental disorders include depression, which affects about 300 million; bipolar disorder, which affects about 60 million; dementia, which affects about 50 million; and schizophrenia and other psychoses, which affects about 23 million people globally.

Obviously, addressing mental health issues is important for communities all around the world. And so, two artists — Elizabeth Commandeur and Mark Starmach — have come up with a neat way to help people get what they truly need: bravery, connection, calm and purpose.

Developed in collaboration with mental health professionals, their installation — called Intangible Goods — was presented by Art & About Sydney between March 26 and April 8, 2018.

The setup included a vending machine that was located in a number of sites across Sydney, Australia. Each good was selling for AU$2 and was designed to momentarily satisfy a need higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy than, say, chocolate and crinkle-cut chips.

For instance — items such as notes, maps and pencils were in packets with labels like “Bravery,” “Friendship” and “Structure” — with each item being selected to encourage people to take time for their emotional needs. The installation, therefore, asked the public to think about consumerism and our psychological needs. It did so by imagining being able to access and purchase solutions for emotional needs with the same ease as we do our physical needs.

All profits were donated to Beyond Blue, the Mental Health Association NSW (WayAhead) and the Schizophrenia Research Institute at NeuRA.

Takeaway

Mental health is important for our wellbeing but it often gets overlooked. Art installations like "The Intangible Goods" engage people in a conversation about mental and emotional wellbeing through an interactive experience. It also makes it easy to access and purchase solutions for emotional needs. And while such solutions can't replace true feelings, it does make one think about more important things in life, beyond those that could be bought with money.
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Action point

FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS:
With mental health increasingly becoming a serious issue in many parts of the world, taking proactive action with a project like this could help savvy local officials score points in the eyes of the public. And this is especially true for the center/left-leaning politicians who want to extend or strengthen their position among the liberals in the city/town. The project combines art with mental health, helping remove some stigma associated with mental health while potentially helping local artists.

FOR BUSINESSES:
With mental health increasingly becoming a serious issue in many parts of the world, taking proactive action with a project like this could help companies score some points (and contracts) in the municipalities they serve. And this is especially true for the center/left-leaning cities where local officials could use such a project to extend or strengthen their position among the liberals in the city/town. The project combines art with mental health, helping remove some stigma associated with mental health while potentially helping local artists.