On World Mental Health Day, The Netherlands sheds light on the importance of mental health in Amman through murals and music
Amman, Jordan/Saturday 10 October 2020 - Mental health has been at the forefront of discussions as the entire world deals with the disruptions and challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local studies and polls have recorded higher levels of depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, and domestic violence amongst Jordanians due to the COVID-19 situation. The overwhelming stress and anxiety caused by facing a global pandemic, lock-downs, remote working and education, fear of infection, economic down-turns and much more has had significant mental health consequences on people all over the world. The crisis also hits some of the more vulnerable communities, such as refugees, especially hard as they are already dealing with their past traumas of displacement.
In Jordan, mental health and well-being remains a topic that is sometimes stigmatised. To tackle this stigmatisation and encourage discussions about mental health, The Embassy of the Netherlands and artmejo, launched #mindthemind to raise awareness of the importance of mental health through public art. The campaign included an open call for artists and muralists to submit works of art that address the issue. An independent panel have chosen a group of four artists to collaborate on three large-scale murals around Amman that tackle the issue and spread positive messages about mental health. The murals will be completed and unveiled throughout the month of October.
In addition, the Embassy and artmejo in partnership with Ruwwad Al-Tanmeya, held a virtual community engagement session that brought together over 20 local artists and four women from Ruwwad’s community. The aim of the session was for the artists to hear from the women about their first hand experiences in dealing with mental health and engage in a conversation about the importance and impact of mental health.
“On World Mental Health Day, let us foster a more open and knowledgeable environment around mental health issues, especially in light of the plight of refugees who have lost everything and went through horrid experiences, but also in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. We are very proud to have launched the #mindthemind campaign this year and we hope it encourages more people to talk about the importance of mental health,” said Barbara Joziasse, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Jordan.
Artists Omar Sha and Sara Allan said: “Our aim for the murals is to create positive, happy and calming visuals in the streets of Amman that would touch the inner child of the viewers and do a bit of healing. I appreciate that we were given the chance to try to achieve that.”
Artists Randa Abu Rahmeh and Sandra Sarkissian said: “Mental health is a prevalent topic in today’s world and I’m glad for the opportunity to visually contribute to the ever-growing dialogue around the subject matter, especially in our region. We are hoping to create something that deeply resonates with others, and so these artworks are inspired by our own personal experiences with mental health challenges.”
In addition to the three murals that will be created, artmejo and the Embassy have commissioned a group of local musicians to compose and perform a song that addresses the issue of mental health. The musicians who collaborated on the song are: Muhammad Abdullah, Mohammad Idreesi, Amjad Shahrour, Amr Abukhleif, Ammar Urabi, Ghalia Barghouthi and Zaid Allan and Zaid Khaled
The Netherlands is a long-standing supporter of initiatives and projects for improving Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in crisis situations and has a history in helping develop expertise on MHPSS, making it a forerunner in the field. In Jordan, the Netherlands mainstreams MHPSS into key programmes and sectors such as education, employment, and social protection.
The #mindthemind campaign comes as a collaboration with artmejo, an online platform that promotes art & culture in the Arab world. The platform aims to provide young local artists with an opportunity to join in on conversations surrounding the current social climate and invites them to actively ignite social change through various art forms.
Every year the world celebrates Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10. This day is used to educate and raise awareness of mental health issue and advocate against the stigmatisation of mental health.