The Brightly Coloured Bell-Jar
16th February 2011, 17:15 to 19:00, Birley Room, Hatfield College, Clive Parkinson
Doctors in England in 2005 wrote 29 million prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs, costing over £400 million to the NHS and in 2003, the USA spent more than $100 billion on mental health treatments. The World Health Organisation predicts that within 20 years, depression will be the biggest health burden on society both economically and sociologically.
But are we in danger of pathologising every aspect of our lives; and whilst we’re offered ‘magic-bullets’ in our obsessive pursuit of well-being, isn’t there a danger that we are blunting our experience of being human?
We’re told that the arts offer a sure-fire route to happiness; but is that what we’re after, and are the arts being used as sugar to coat the bitter pill of medication. Is there room for the ugly, angry and the pessimistic in this debate?
This paper will explore the relationship between the arts, mental health and our sometimes neurotic aspiration to well-being.
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