Paprika Artists Shine a Light on Mental Health

For being such a taboo subject it seems like the topic of mental health is everywhere. With celebrities like Demi Lovato sharing their struggles with the world and movies like Frozen bringing characters with depression and anxiety into the homes of millions around the world, mental health has become today’s popular hot button issue. Yet despite this exposure it continues to hold the same negative stigma as ever, and it’s this stigma that a number of the plays at this year’s Paprika Festival are tackling head on.

It’s no wonder so many of our plays address mental illness in some way. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association all Canadians will be affected by mental illness indirectly through a friend or family member, while 20% of Canadians will experience it themselves. And even though it’s something we all have experience with, there continues to be a sense of shame surrounding its treatment. Almost half (49%) of those who feel they’ve suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about it.

It takes courage to openly face the deeply entrenched misconceptions surrounding mental health, yet that is what a number of Paprika’s artists have chosen to do. Each with a unique take on the subject, these artists are using every tool in their arsenal to combat these stereotypes.

In Laurel Brady’s one-woman show, Surfacing, we gain a glimpse inside the mind of a young woman battling depression and suicide. Her poetic performance offers us the opportunity to experience her struggles as she tries to explain to her mother why and how she feels the way she does.

Though very different in style, both Stigma by Sabah Haque and Collective and Ties of Blood: The Brontës by Caty Quinn use music and movement to tell stories of how our childhood struggles stay with us as we grow up and continue to affect us as adults.

Even the wacky absurdist comedy, Caught in a Bad Romance by Ioana Luchian and Angelo Dallen provides a lighthearted and comical take on one girl’s battle to overcome her inner daemons. Daemons that take the form of a puppet bird…or rat…or bat maybe? The species is unclear. But the message is crystal, learning to love yourself is the hardest and most rewarding battle you can fight.

We've come to a point where, as a society, we are slowly shaking off the stigma and bringing mental illnesses out from the shadows. And though it is becoming more and more present in our culture, mental health continues to carry a taboo that prevents so many sufferers from seeking help. In Canada, only 1 in 5 children who need mental health services receive them. Fortunately, our brave Paprika artists have chosen to use their creativity to remind us all that none of us are alone in this crazy wacky world we live in.

For more info on mental health in Canada, check out: