Our industry is built on the output of unusual brains. We celebrate the genius of creativity along with the obsession, drive and single-minded focus that enables it. But these extremes of excellence can come at a cost. The creative industry overindexes in mental illness.
The topic carries so much stigma that we flip it to its opposite, mental health, then address it with the safe generalities of self-care. In so doing, we sidestep the crux of the issue: The intersection of what it is to be human with what we’re expected to be as creative professionals.
By all means celebrate the exceptional achievements of the creative mind on fire, generating one winning idea after another; of the hyper-focused strategist that nails one-line briefs. But also recognize that these feats may be enabled by a chemical imbalance. And that’s OK. But it also needs to be OK for those brains to rest. And sometimes to fail.
I’d like to propose an alternate framing: It’s ultimately less about mental illness than about valuing our people for the complete and complicated packages they are. Creating a culture of acceptance means radically rewriting the narrative.
So how do we do this?