Creativity sparks mental health debate

June 14, 2018
Jada Kingdom
Jada Kingdom
Lisa Hyper
Dr Geoffrey Walcott

In popular culture, it is not unusual for persons to link an individual's creativity and personality, or even personalities (if he or she has more than one), to a mental disorder.

Locally, recording artistes like Tifa, Lisa Hyper and Jada Kingdom who have adopted more than one alter ego, whether in music videos or in their daily routines, have been hailed as creative geniuses.

However, for Jada Kingdom, whose music videos, such as Love Situations and Unwanted, tend to lean to the crazier side, it has long been speculated by fans that her inspiration had to come from a deeper mental issue.

Kingdom's manager, Julian Jones-Griffith, told THE STAR that his artiste's creative vision and energy are very unique and are very much based on human emotions.

"Maybe it gives her that distinctive insight or extra edge, not just with music," said Jones-Griffith.

The Wull On singer recently revealed that she has been battling bipolar disorder and depression. Kingdom's news falls in the same period in which Kanye West, one of hip hop's popular figures, announced on his new album, Ye, that he is bipolar, although he had previously hinted that mental illness may be the reason for his creative style. Entertainers such as comedian/rapper Katt Williams and R&B singers Mariah Carey and Chris Brown have also admitted that they, too, have bipolar disorder.

One other artiste who has addressed issues of mental illness is Konshens. He started a foundation to assist persons dealing with mental illness and anxiety. It was done in recognition of his brother, Delus, also an entertainer, who committed suicide two years ago.

"It was a very brave move, especially as she (Jada Kingdom) is so young. She's an advocate for mental health and female empowerment, so her putting this out there helps to start a conversation around the topic," said Jones-Griffith.

He is hopeful that this will make persons in and outside of the music industry feel empowered to speak about their own battles.

According to Dr Geoffrey Walcott, clinical director for Psychotherapy Associates Ltd, persons with bipolar disorder tend to have sudden mood shifts and irregular sleep patterns. They experience depression and tend to "lose social inhibitions and will be more willing to take risks".

However, Walcott said that creativity and bipolar disorder are not directly linked, even with the number of entertainers who have publicly admitted to dealing with the mental illness.

"Part of the difficulty with separating the two is that you have extraordinary people who are mentally ill, and they become even more euphoric or self-confident. That results in some enhancement in that area," Walcott said.

"A number of persons who have come out publicly have displayed risk-taking behaviour. Usually, it causes them more problems than it solves the impulsivity," Walcott continued.

The psychiatrist said that it is important for persons, especially those in the public frame, to manage the illness rather than thinking it is the cause of any creativity.

Jones-Griffith added that Kingdom's disorder is something he is always mindful of.

"We talked about it pretty early in our working relationship, and in terms of how I approach it, I'm just always mindful of it. I am always there with unconditional support in good and bad times, and I just try to foster an environment where she feels comfortable and doesn't feel judged at any time," he said.

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