2016 Grantee Profile: Beautiful Minds

Beautiful Minds is new to the program scene.  Developed in 2016, its intention has been the promotion of self-care and mindfulness paired with the demotion of stigma surrounding mental health.  Nicole D’Souza, the founder of Beautiful Minds, notes, “Negative mental health can be things in normal circumstances, like taking a test – let’s cope with that!”  The program looks for new techniques that foster a positive mental health state, because, well, not everyone just wants to talk about stuff.

 “Negative Mental Health can be things in normal circumstances, like taking a test –  let’s cope with that”

Beautiful Minds explores ways to transcend the singular way of westernized mental health practices of sitting and talking.  Understanding that they may look different from person to person and culture to culture, “some (languages) don’t have a word for mental health … some cultures are very private and your thoughts are very private … (and) not every culture believes in medication” says Nicole.  Self-care can be done through dance, storytelling, or nature; expression goes beyond the spoken word.   Beautiful Minds aims to dust off, sharpen, or discover the tools that best work for an individual’s self-care.

“You go and you exercise, and you eat well, for your body; but, for your mind, you’re not really doing stuff.”

Discovering your tools for expression can be a daunting task; the program acts as a metaphorical map to help youth discover the treasure that works best for them.  Offering various techniques for self-care over multiple weeks, the youth are given tastes of expressive forms without the intimidating obligation of eating the whole thing, “doing things for an hour each week is less intimidating than a six week program (focused on one thing) … we attempt everything!”  It’s not about being the best, or doing the thing that you’re good at, but finding the thing that works best for you.

With the help of ArtReach funding, art supplies and artist themselves are brought in to facilitate programs in their craft (such as: dance, yoga, spoken word, rap, and more).  Nicole laughed as she explained to us about how the Beautiful Minds team attempts everything, although “not being that great at anything”.  The hope is that the authenticity of the mentors can create a safe and brave space for the participants.

“Mental health is becoming predominant in the news and other venues.  Youth get diagnosed more so at childhood and adolescents – wait lists exist.”

Creating a safe communal space is integral given the current climate of the mental health scene; Nicole explains, “Mental health is becoming predominant in the news and other venues.  Youth get diagnosed more so at childhood and adolescents – wait lists exist.”  By creating a space, on Sundays, when most facilities are closed, the team attempts to promote wellness for folks who are experiencing either mental illness or negative mental health experiences.  Through understanding their personalized self-care, youth can understand their boundaries and needs; as well as multiple means to express them.  Mental wellness is neither singular nor linear, it is a beautiful juxtaposition of every inch of your self; and, Beautiful Minds hopes to illuminate that beauty.

Learn more about Beautiful Minds here

Author: Cassey Andrews