The intersection of mental health and aesthetics


Last week I got to meet with Celia Dottore, the program curator at the Flinders University Art Museum. Spoilers: she’s lovely and generous and kind.

Chatting with her reminded me of something that I know intuitively but need to be reminded of continually – that is – the important intersection between mental health and aesthetics.

I’ve spoken previously on this blog about ‘psychological needs’. Psychological needs are a critical part of my mental fitness framework, as these needs can be both drivers of, and guides to our self-improvement efforts. I’ve outlined 10 needs that I think represent the core experiences we all seek as human beings.

Absent in those 10 though is ‘aesthetic’ needs – the appreciation of beauty, balance, form etc. This is something I need to rectify.

Think about the many ways that aesthetics intersect with your daily life:

  1. appreciating and spending time in beautiful gardens and natural settings
  2. the preference to be in buildings that are unique and attractive
  3. the desire to travel to see new and beautiful locations
  4. your eye being drawn to advertisements or promotions or art that are visually appealing
  5. the characteristics that make someone beautiful to you
  6. your own hobbies of drawing, painting, dance, music
  7. your selection of clothes based on how they look, the feelings they give
  8. the way a room can make you feel, the moment you walk into it
  9. the appreciation of the visual elements of a film or TV show, as much, if not more than the narrative

I won’t pretend to have expertise in this particular area of mental health, but the meeting with Celia inspired me to pursue it further. She and I committed to find ways to collaborate further, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are some ways that the Art Museum can enhance your health and wellbeing.

General Info

Their ‘What’s On’ section of the website details any exhibitions, events and programs they have upcoming (updated regularly):
They also use Facebook and Instagram to share content.
The Art Museum is open Mon-Fri 12-2pm for people to wander in, view the works on display, chat to staff and enjoy the quiet and calm of a museum. They are located on the ground floor of Social Sciences North, follow the artwork along the corridor to find us. Happy to provide special tours and education programs by booking.
The Online Collections Catalogue can be accessed by staff and students via login:

Upcoming programs

They are running some Self-Portait Workshops during Mental Health Week 2019 on the 1st and 2nd of May.
They are about to list a new program of Lunch Box Lectures, which will happen Tuesday lunchtimes from Term 2 (these are brief informal talks on the collections).
There is an exhibition and artist talk coming up for History Festival on L1, Student Hub, all welcome:
For Reconciliation Week, they have a two programs – A Lunch Box Lecture (details TBC shortly) and the Annual Megaw Lecture:
You can subscribe to get updates on exhibitions and public programs via their home page
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Flinders services and programs Mental Health Our Partners Well-being at Flinders

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