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MENtal Health: Royston on male mental health and the arts

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With awareness of the high rates of mental health issues among young people growing, there is increasing openness and understanding of how best to manage stresses and maintain a healthy quality of mind. 

Royston is an entertainment-industry expert who works as a choreographer and talent agent while running his company ‘RnD Creatives’. He chatted to The National Student about how the arts can help people to manage their mental health, allowing them to share their emotions and feelings in a creative way. 

 

Image credit: Royston

“The arts are so powerful,” says Royston. “They give you a chance to express yourself, especially outside of your comfort zone. It’s also a way to connect with creative people, sharing and supporting one another in doing so.” 

Royston also explains that despite the varying severity and specifics of each mental health condition for every person, the passion involved in creating art makes the experience a very rewarding one. He encourages anyone looking for a creative outlet to engage with the options in their local community.

It is precisely this communal aspect that can be beneficial for a sufferer, providing a support network and encouragement. Having suffered from depression himself, Royston understands the importance of sharing one’s own issues and experiences with others.

He says, “I think it’s very important to speak on all topics that affect us, and mental health is a critical one. Mental health is very taboo and people often look at illness in this area as a problem or hindrance.” 

Image credit: Royston

And who better to encourage such honest conversations but the high-profile celebrities within the creative community - people who Royston highlights “are typically seen to be unstoppable or fearless, when in reality they’re simply human. The fact they’re talking about their experiences, or even things they have seen/witnessed, will show that mental illness can affect anyone.” 

However, there is still a long way to go within the creative industries in accepting and understanding mental health, and Royston explains that it’s a conversation that he wants to personally encourage. He also underlines that portraying mental illness in the arts can bring up some difficult questions for audiences.

“I was recently part of Ray BLK’s performance at the Grime Awards, where her dancers had numbers on their chests reflecting knife crimes in London. Performances like this are designed to tackle important topics head-on, highlighting poignant issues with no barriers. I think audiences are inspired by these performances, they educate the mind without an audience even knowing it. I was super proud of Ray as I believe she did just that.

I also think it’s very important for artists to share information about appropriate next steps, should their audiences be affected by a performance. For example, sharing helplines and support groups so individuals that are watching, who may have been in this situation and may be experiencing personal difficulties, know how to address emotions which may have been stirred by the performance(s).” 


Some UK mental health helplines:

Mind: 0300 123 3393 / text 86463

Samaritans: 116 123

CALM: 0800 58 58 58

Papyrus: 0800 068 41 41


Moreover, the issue of male mental health is one that Royston is passionate about increasing awareness of.

Studies have shown that men generally find it more difficult than women to open up about mental health issues; when asked about why he thinks this is, Royston explains that it is an issue of stereotypes endorsing the idea that “men are fearless, more powerful [and] if they do talk, they’re often looked upon as weak or fragile. This is a damaging attitude that needs to change.” 

The entertainment industry can do a lot to encourage open discussions on male mental health.

Royston believes that interviews and open seminars can be a great starting point and elaborates on the influence of the entertainment and creative industries, explaining how they can be powerful tools in encouraging discussions about mental health.

“People tend to look at the entertainment industry as holding some form of higher power, so why not use this to an advantage? We have the ability to truly inspire and help invest knowledge in those who need it most.” 

To find out more about Royston and RnD Creatives, visit https://rndcreatives.com. 

This article is part of The National Student’s MENtal Health content series which is led by Laura Brown. You can see more from the series here.

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