*** Note from the editor: this is an edited article, originally written by Malak Altaeb for Arab Millennial***
Mental health and illness is one of the least discussed topics in Arabic societies. When discussed, it is often linked to craziness and demons. Whilst some Arabs are educated on the link between serotonin, cognitive development, dopamine levels and mental health, sadly, there remains a segment of society who lack information and education on this topic.
Mental illness, as many of us are aware, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, health, and behaviour for biological and/or sociological reasons. A key example is how many girls and women suffer from eating disorders at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, many people do not consider eating disorders a mental illness when, in fact they are. Other types of mental disorders include depression, anxiety and bipolar. People must acknowledge that it is not always a temporary experience, and that some can suffer their entire lives from mental health disorders.
In the Nafs (Psyche) art gallery in Tripoli, a number of Libyan artists, including Abdullah Turki, Ryazan Naas, Ibrahim Mokhtar and Mohamed Ellafy, have managed to shed light on this subject through their artwork. They portrayed mental disorders in a manner like no other with each painting and picture portraying a story of struggle, pain, and agony.
They have not only used paintings to express their vision, but also used short films that showcased what a person goes through when they have a mental disorder. The films were silent, which had a powerful impact as it grabbed the viewer’s attention.
In my opinion this art has successfully communicated a message to a regressing segment of society that mental health illness is not about possession or black magic, but rather about an often uncontrollable genetic and sociological predisposition to different and at times dangerous behaviours and thoughts.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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