How art helped a student overcome mental health issues
University student Gillian Peck (above) uses her artworks to help raise awareness of mental health issues. (Photo: Gillian Peck)

How art helped a student overcome mental health issues

When university student Gillian Peck was diagnosed with an eating disorder and major depressive disorder in 2012, art was the last thing on her mind. Her depressive episodes were so severe, she had to drop out of the School of Medicine at National University of Singapore. 

As part of her treatment, she started going for art therapy and she picked up painting. Through painting, she was able to process her traumas, express her feelings freely, and experience more peace. She has not stopped making art since.  

Now, a third-year biological science undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University, Peck uses her artworks to raise awareness of mental health issues, and she conducts art journaling sessions to help others process their feelings.

She says: “I really do see art as a powerful means for achieving mental wellness in a time when people increasingly face mental health issues. In art making, one can give form to unspoken emotions and subconscious thoughts.”

art lettering by Gillian peck art workshop

Peck hand letters inspirational quotes as well as makes abstract paintings and acrylic pour paintings, and she posts photos of the works on her Instagram, ARTnotes From the Heart. By making public her personal reflections on art and mental wellness, she hopes to encourage others who are going through a difficult time. 

She also conducts independent art making workshops such as watercolour painting and art journaling every few weeks. “The workshops are a great platform to raise awareness of mental health conditions because I share my personal story and empower participants to get in touch with their feelings and inner artist and simply create,” she says. 

As much as her uplifting artworks have inspired others, so too has she been encouraged by her followers on Instagram account, who remind her of why she does what she does. 

Peck says: “Someone reached out to thank me for my art because he felt less alone and was comforted that he too can be okay even in his poorly state. I have also had a stranger-turned-friend who told me that my artworks have touched her heart and kept her going in challenging times. Such instances have encouraged others and me to not give up because of a bump in the road.”

Follow ARTnotes From the Heart here.

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