Mental Health and Creativity: A talk with Psychologist Paolo Grampa from Alice Onlus
As Mental Health Awareness Week falls in May, we decided to create an editorial partnership with the Alice Onlus Association and the psychotherapy psychologist Paolo Grampa.
The goal of this article is to provide information and tips about mental health, to help our community face the struggles that we all encounter in our lives, related to fears, insecurities, and periods of stress.
It’s important to talk and keep the conversations around mental health going, especially in this particularly difficult period. Let us know any comments or feedback you have about this topic in the comments. We’re in this together!
So let's hear what Psychologist Paolo has to say on this topic:
The quote from the first Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Brock Chisholm ‘without mental health there can be no true physical health’ , is now widely known. However, although it is relatively simple to understand the meaning of this statement, it is more complex to clearly define what mental health is. I sought help from the Ministry of Health of my country (Italy), which defines mental health as: "the state of emotional and psychological well-being in which the individual can exploit his cognitive or emotional abilities, exercise his function within of society, respond to the daily needs of everyday life, establish satisfying and mature relationships with others, constructively participate in changes in the environment adapt to external conditions and internal conflicts ”.
Faced with this definition and in the light of the still current COVID-19 pandemic in progress (with all its implications of social isolation, restriction of personal freedom, economic and social repercussions ...), I believe it is easy for each of us to affirm that: in the last year, there have been times when our mental health has faltered, been tested, or suffered severe blows.
Fears, insecurities, and anxieties about work and personal life, difficulties related to the loss of contact with friends and loved ones, forced and prolonged coexistence, numerous losses of all kinds, are just some of the causes of increased anxiety and panic symptoms, moments of strong discomfort, difficulty in controlling anger and aggression and variations in motivation to work .
What can help people cope in this situation?
One of the many resources available to us is certainly creativity. By this term I mean not a single act, linked to an innate gift and of a few. Rather, the result of the complementarity between deduction and intuition, between reason and imagination, between emotion and reflection, between divergent and convergent thinking .
-- Creativity is a process accessible to all, which makes it possible to restructure apparently unchangeable situations, which risk turning into quicksand for the mind, in a new and original, unprecedented, and fruitful way. --
Every day, in my work as a psychotherapist, I meet people who, immobilized by different degrees of suffering and discomfort, undertake the challenge of creating something new and good for themselves and their future.
And it is precisely in the moment of meeting, of listening to others and of confrontation, of feeling seen, understood, welcomed but not pitied or reassured with false slogans such as the now-famous "everything will be fine", that creativity can be restarted.
The different perspectives provided by the gaze of the other, the firm but sweetly weaning attitude, and the perspective of a balanced assumption of responsibility are the founding ingredients of a good process of creativity.
So welcome creativity, not just the one aimed at the production of goods, advertising, merch, and items that can be monetized. Make way for creativity as a human resource that allows us to once again raise our gaze towards a future that can be imaginable and dreamable again.
Insight: Fear of the Future
We asked the community what was the greatest difficulty/fear encountered during this period and the answer was, "fear of the future.”
So how can we overcome this fear when we feel blocked; when we fail to make a decision or the weight of what will happen seems to be too difficult to bear?
Let’s hear what Psychologist Paolo Grampa suggests:
-- The most powerful weapon we have at our disposal is relationships; to face our fears, anxieties, and insecurities, it is good not to be alone. Affection and good relationships with which to share our thoughts allow us to deflate our fears, making us feel less alone.
-- We must remember that fear is a basic emotion for humans. Therefore it has a precious value: it allows us to proceed with caution. We can educate ourselves, therefore, to transform fear into something that makes us be careful and thoughtful instead of blocking ourselves.
-- Being afraid must become the stimulus to consider new paths and different perspectives.
And you? How are you experiencing this period? Do you have any strategies to regain personal peace and balance?
Write us in the comments and we will answer you with the support from the Psychologist.
What is the Alice Onlus Association?
Alice is a non-profit association in Milan made up of psychologists and psychotherapists with many years of experience in the field of developmental age, adolescence, parenting, school psychology, and DCA (eating disorders). Since 2012, it has also been at the forefront of primary prevention of femicide thanks to the “RispettaMI” project. It collaborates throughout the Lombardy region with private citizens, schools of all levels, extracurricular educational agencies, associations, and public institutions, creating network realities and promoting the development of synergies.
The services it offers are divided into proposals for prevention, training, and clinical intervention.
You can visit the association's website to find out about all the ongoing initiatives and follow the Instagram page for content dedicated to mental health on many topics.
Paolo Grampa: Psychotherapy psychologist with an analytic orientation, he deals with patients in developmental age, young and adult. He works for the Alice Onlus Association and collaborates with the Oncological Pediatrics Department of the IRCCS Cancer Institute of Milan. You can follow him on IG to know more @dottor_paolo.
Noemi Lalli: Young Italian graphic designer and illustrator, who communicates positive and poetic messages through human bodies and natural elements. She collaborated in this initiative with her illustrations.
 World Medical Association. Dichiarazione di Helsinki. Principi etici per la ricerca biomedica che coinvolge gli esseri umani. Evidence 2013.
 Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, Woodland L, Wessely S, Greenberg N, Rubin GJ. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet.
 Biasion, I (2017). Il cervello e la creatività: le basi neurali e molecolari del processo creativo. State of Mind.