PART 2: STUDENT ART PASS #AllMuseumsMatter

I had this idea in Year 1, when we had to create a business idea for our assignment for Business Enterprise module.

To give you a bit of a backstory, I came up with the idea to create and develop a mental health app and my colleagues liked it. We called it EMBRACE, available for both Android and iPhone, aiming to help those who have a history of mental health and those who are struggling; at the beginning we decided to focus on aiding students through students as in making it available to university students and collaborate with Psychology, Counselling and Mental Health students who could volunteer in chatting with users.

Ready Made/PEXELS

These users could be anonymous or choose to show who they are, whether through pictures of themselves or via video. The app, we decided, features a forum, for deeper conversations to flow and connections between users to be established – and for users to also answer each other’s questions for a more personal feel. That is also a place where volunteers or professionals can take requests, answer questions, share advice and so on.

We didn’t think about featuring other therapies, like therapy through art at the time, but it makes sense today. A partnership with Artfund would benefit the charity and all the users on the platform: our users get the color therapy, we get the visibility for the app to thrive, same for the charity. The Student Art Pass is £5 but its benefits goes beyond the price. Ads of it on the app would further help the charity.

Think of all the inspiration you’ll get from seeing ancient artefacts, immersing in Virtual Reality, to artwork maybe you didn’t know anything about before so don’t be bored, be artful. All these experiences are waiting for all of us. I can’t wait to own one just so I can brag to my friends at every chance I get.

© Marc Atkins / Art Fund 2019

The name of the app didn’t make sense last year, Patrick, my colleague worrying it could be interpreted in a sexual way, but I see it now as a Digital Embrace. A digital embrace which can be extended to all who struggle with their mental health, not just students.

Sure, a Harry Potter coloring book is awesome, I know because I own one, but seeing artwork in person is on another level. Half of UK students, about 51% ‚’’feel anxious some of the time and two fifths feel high level of anxiety on any given day’’, says my ARTFUND brief. It’s becase you can go somewhere else with art. Even with a mask on, you could not hide that happiness experiencing Virtual Reality where you didn’t expect to, in a museum!

Painting in Photoshop is great too, but art in person is on another level. The Michelangelo you have only seen in History or Art books in front of you would definitely excite you.

Denise Duplinski/PEXELS

Who could believe it’s five pounds for everything it offers? Now I am sad I can’t form a club at university and form a masked group and go on an adventure. Museums and galleries being places so peaceful, that I am sure financial worries (51%), coping with exams (42%), pressures of getting a job after you graduate (54%) will lessen through art served as medicine.

’’55% of the British public live within walking distance of a museum or gallery’’ says ARTFUND, and I think it is about the same statistic for any other nationality. We make time for other things in our lives just not for forms of Art and we should change that in 2021. It would be a pity not to benefit from such treasures.

It isn’t what you think as fun. It isn’t comparable to anything you have experienced. At the end of 2020, ARTFUND discontinued their ART GUIDE app so you can’t see the goodies there anymore but the Student Art Pass is something you don’t need to pass on. I wish I could go back to Southampton right now just to get one and see when I could visit every gallery in the city.

I can dream that sometime in 2021, I will go to Tate Modern, in London. One thing I want to educate myself in is black culture. I have never been shown a painting by a black artist and that’s a shame, and I think ARTFUND can help me achieve this goal. They’re professionals after all.

Una Laurencic/PEXELS

 Art has a new meaning now, in the new year as the museums and galleries need our support in all countries, to recover and thrive. There are 2,500 museums in the UK and whilst we can’t physically see them all, let’s start locally. If we don’t have art, what do we fight for? #AllMuseumsMatter

Check the nearest gallery or museum near you now: https://www.studentartpass.org/whats-on/museums-and-galleries

PART 1: THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC

INTRO

Like many have said, no one could have predicted a pandemic when putting together their new year resolutions/goals/vision boards. A day or two before the Solent University Library closed I went and got several books to keep me company, without a slightest idea of what was about to happen.

Alex Green/PEXELS

Borders closed, lockdowns imposed. All of a sudden, there were and are hundreds of things we can no longer do (if you do, you put your life and the life of others at risk) which never happened before in our lifetimes. We were literally ordered to stay at home and it still feels indefinite.

Cutting off work, all social activities – whether informal or formal impacted us all, no matter the age group. I imagine, (I’m not a mother yet), but thinking of how toddlers no longer had play dates, teens no longer being able to meet their friends in any shape or form, students had to remain in their dorms or go home (which is what I did, eventually, in July 2020), lastly – many adults were facing furlough or unemployment.

Whilst I can’t wrap my mind around how deeply others were hurting, I know my own experience. I was already having depression and anxiety before the pandemic due to not being able to pay the rent for the university residence I was staying at. Everywhere I went, I was turned down. I felt alienated, not good enough for this new world I entered and It didn’t seem to improve at all, no matter how hard I tried.

THE IMPACT

The impact of the pandemic on our mental health can’t really be expressed nor quantified by numbers and its effects will be surely long lasting, even after the pandemic is over. The Strategy Unit estimates that the demand for primary mental health will increase by 22%  in 2020/21, as shown in their ‘’Estimating the impact of covid-19 on mental health services in England – summary of results and methods’’ report published in November 2020, mentioning that ‘’The next 18 months could be particularly demanding on services’’.

Alex Green/PEXELS

True, if we look at stats from surveys carried out on 2,011 youngsters with a history of mental health was organized by Young Minds Org in 2020, and the results are heartbreaking: ‘’Among more than 1,000 respondents who were accessing mental health support in the three months leading up the crisis (including from the NHS, school and university counsellors, private providers, charities and helplines), 31% said they were no longer able to access support but still needed it’’ whilst ‘’87% of respondents agreed that they had felt lonely or isolated during the lockdown period, even though 71% had been able to stay in touch with friends’’. I am very happy to see 11% who were able to improve despite the on-going crisis, stating ‘’they felt it was beneficial to be away from the pressures of their normal life (e.g. bullying or academic pressure at school).

MENTAL HEALTH HYGIENE

We all can work on our mental health hygiene. It’s very important to talk about what you think and feel, even if you don’t have a significant other, whatever the age, even if you don’t have any friends (which I know how it feels like). You can still form a support bubble with another household, like a neighbor you enjoy talking to, back when there was ‘’normalcy’’.

Gabby K/PEXELS

Managing stress won’t be getting any easier, but we can get tougher. Stressors like taking care of someone who is ill, or experiencing loss of any kind can take its toll on you, so reaching out to family members or a service is still important. WELLTEQ recommends cutting off screen time before bed, (phones, tv’s, laptops). You can try to put those away in another room so that you aren’t tempted to check any emails in your bedroom, at least an hour before bed time.

Start journaling as a way of releasing the steam from your emotion factory, and try to go to bed earlier than later. If you are staying up, you’re either a student with 3 days to a deadline, or binge-watching ‘’Bridgerton’’ on Netflix – then you have my blessing to stay up, the rest of you lot go to bed!

MEDITATION – BENEFITS ON OUR PSYCHE

The benefits of meditation can’t be denied, as it was proven to improve self-worth, memory and concentration, increase creativity, (Upwell Health, n.d.), you’d even score higher on assignments or speed in which you solve puzzles, and it can bring you inner peace – if you get yourself to do it.

Elly Fairytale/PEXELS

Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend money on it, it is readily available on YouTube. Start with guided meditation videos. At first, you may have issues concentrating on being still, because it is hard to master your own mind, telling your mind to quiet down won’t work from first try but keep at it. I’ve researched mental health apps in Year 1 for an assignment, and found an article from MS-UK featuring the 11 best apps for mental health which may help you, link here: https://www.ms-uk.org/blog-11-best-mental-health-apps

MUSIC AND GETTING CREATIVE

Other than meditating, music and getting creative is very important – to get those skills you have in motion. We all have more time than usual, so use it creatively. There are so many podcasts on Spotify, all my follows are on entrepreneurs and Law of Attraction, because the film The Secret got me into it. It is the perfect time to consider and start an online business, as more and more people grow tired of depending on being paid by someone else.

Daria Shevtsova/PEXELS

Music helps us tremendously, it lowers stress, it stimulates the brain, releases endorphins when listening to our favorite bands, in a 2019 study by Healthline, people were found to be more motivated to learn when they expected to listen to a song as their reward.

What helped me recover was wanting to recover and working on assignments as it gave me purpose. Another, was being ‘’forced’’ to get creative as I’m the social media coordinator of a fan site for actor turned activist for Human Rights and sustainability in fashion, Emma Watson. I had to create graphics every month, and it felt good too.

So much that I want for 2021 to go back to painting in Adobe Photoshop and write my novel ideas, no matter how much time it consumes. It could be that you own a watercolor palette you never used before, so just go buy the brushes if you don’t have them already. Create your own daily routine to include something funny, something stimulating like music, something calming, like meditating or prayer, and something soothing, like a book (Audible or Waterstones, or both), fitness – like dancing or exercising (both can be found on YouTube).

Abigail Lee/BEHANCE

STILL BORED? THE SOLUTION

Artfund is a charity that connects us with museums, and offers a Student Art Pass for only £5, so all students should get it for the multitude of experiences you get from using it. Think of all the inspiration you’ll get from seeing ancient artefacts, immersing in Virtual Reality, to artwork maybe you didn’t know anything about before. Doing this you’ll help a gallery or museum stay open, because #AllMuseumsMatter.