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Rethink: Psychiatric Illness hosted a healing arts night

Global studies major Daleah Wilkerson paints at Healing Arts Night, hosted by Rethink: Psychiatric Illness in the Student Union on Tuesday.

Global studies major Daleah Wilkerson paints at Healing Arts Night, hosted by Rethink: Psychiatric Illness in the Student Union on Tuesday.

These cards marked the end of the Healing Arts Night hosted by Rethink: Psychiatric Illness. Students were invited to express themselves through various art mediums in order to provide a space for students to take a break from their everyday lives and focus on their emotional state.

The event began with meditation before attendees were invited to experiment with charcoal, pastel and ink in breakout sessions.

Grayson Bowen, who earned a master’s degree in fine arts from Western Carolina University in 2009 and is currently pursuing a master’s in art therapy from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, led the event.

“Art can create so much dialogue and expression,” he said. “It goes beyond the verbal.”

Bowen encouraged students to open up and experiment with the art to translate their emotions.

“It’s positive affirmation that brings self examination into your realm,” he said. “I see a lot of challenge and nervousness going into it, but, in the end, there’s a transformation.”

UNC junior and Rethink co-chairwoman Ivana Chan initiated the event to broaden awareness of therapy methods.

“We always tell people to do different types of therapy,” she said. “We don’t want to forget or exclude the different types.”

Chan said over the past three years Rethink has trained more than 500 individuals about the importance and best practices when coping with mental health.

“It can be easy to get caught up in meetings, tests, papers and events,” Chan said. “It’s really important to think about ourselves and our mental health.”

In addition to hosting events, Rethink regularly invites guests to campus to discuss and explore various aspects of mental health.

“Art therapy is meant to increase awareness of ourselves and of others,” Chan explained. “It’s a way of increasing consciousness.”

Chan stressed the difference between art therapy and recreational art.

“It isn’t the same as recreational art or an art lesson,” Chan said. “It’s not guided based on talent or mental disabilities.”

Sophomore history and political science major Devin Holman was excited to attend the event despite her lack of a background in art.

“I went to Art of Empathy last year, and it was amazing,” Holman said. “I want to be a teacher so I want to be more acquainted with mental health issues just in case my students have them.”

Art of Empathy was an event held by Rethink to raise awareness for mental health. It featured performances by UNC a cappella groups.

Holman said Tuesday’s event was a success as she enjoyed the process of making art.

“You don’t have to be any good at art,” she said, “The point is the process and trying to relax — it’s a really rewarding experience.”

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