Finding yourself feeling overwhelmed is never a sign of weakness. The Health and Safety Executive recently revealed on their website that workload was the reason behind 44% of cases of adults in the UK feeling stressed, depressed or anxious. Although conversations about mental health are becoming increasingly commonplace in society, there is still a need for proactive projects that encourage people to get involved - and ECA has dedicated a week to doing exactly that.
ECA Wellbeing Week was set up by Student Support Officers Jacqueline Plumer and Amy Forrest, with the aim of drawing attention to the resources related to wellbeing that are available to staff and students at the University.
MA Illustration graduate and Artist in Residence Pilar Garcia de Leaniz was tasked with creating the Wellbeing Week mascot. Since Thera-pets is one of the organised activities – and everyone loves a cute dog – ECA requested she create an identity for the week on this theme. “All that I had as a brief was a dog, a scribble, and fun! This is how Ruffo was born,” said Pilar, who drew Ruffo in a variety of moods such as happy, upset and frazzled by stress.
By combining her talent as an illustrator and her interest in mindfulness, Pilar gave Ruffo a vibrant personality. Pilar’s work has often focused on happiness and the acceptance of imperfections, and she has even created a book called ‘the Book of Calm for Women’ which will be published in the coming months in her native Spain. “For me, having a healthy life is fundamental,” said Pilar, “it is important to have a good attitude to cope with life, to do what you love and love yourself as you are – that will keep your mind positive and healthy too”.
As well as Thera-pets, ECA Wellbeing Week will include yoga and meditation sessions, talks on how to stay creatively productive and from ECA alumni about how they overcame challenges while studying, and a Wellbeing Fair in the Fire Station. Some events require booking to attend.
While studying at ECA, Pilar says she had support from tutors for her dyslexia, was encouraged to push herself creatively and have confidence in her art, particularly from the Graphic Design Officer, Nicky Regan, who promoted her work at the 2017 Masters Degree Show. This has led Pilar to collaborate with ECA student, Ayshia Taskin and Director of Student Experience, Kate Carter on an art therapy booth for mental wellbeing, which will be launching soon for all students.
ECA Wellbeing Week will run 5 - 9 February and all ECA students and staff are welcome.