The tentative connection between mental health and creativity has, for a long time, been a fascinating topic for psychologists. It does not come as a surprise that some of the world’s famous artists were, or are plagued with hallucinations and delusions, and Vincent Van Gogh is probably the most popular example.
Stereotyped the “mad artist”, the famous painter once said, “I put my heart and my soul into my work and lost my mind in the process.” Well, he was not lying, because, in 1888, Van Gogh cut off his ear after arguing with a friend. Two years later, he died by suicide.
Van Gogh’s case is not so far isolated from the reality of the contemporary world. All over the globe, artists and people with creative minds are dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, mania, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few.
It is, therefore, clear that anyone can experience mental health challenges at some point in their lives, and artists are no different. They face insurmountable pressure unique to their work, all of which contribute to mental illness, and without the right support, some of them succumb to this condition.
It is for this reason that Nancy Wanjiru Kabiru, Founder and Lead Psychologist at Hisia Psychology Consultants, sought to address the issues Kenyan artists are facing. In an episode of Hisia’s Mental Health Chat, she featured Michael Kennedy Claver professionally known as Naiboi, a Kenyan singer, songwriter, recording artist, music producer, and record label CEO, to shed light on his journey as an artist and the challenges his profession has conjured up.
Torn between insufficient support for one’s career, and the desire to make dreams come true, Naiboi notes that every artist has a choice to make regarding the expectations of the society. Naiboi identifies that in the music industry, the success of other musicians in a niche that has the same fan base, when you have been in the business for a while and has not achieved even a quarter of what the others are doing is too much pressure.
The big question, therefore, remains, how does one build a support system around them and learn to maintain their peace of mind?
Catch up with Nancy and Naiboi on this episode through the link below to find inspiration and learn how to tackle the issue of mental illness amidst creativity and fame.