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Artist Spotlight: Mikarla Teague

If there’s one person who understands the transformative power of art, it’s Mikarla Teague. An artist and art therapist, Mikarla experienced art’s distinct healing properties long before she made a career out of it.

“I was diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety as a teenager and unfortunately found talk therapy didn’t work well for me; as a young person I struggled to articulate my feelings and what I was going through. I started dabbling in art to process my emotions, and it’s become a lifelong passion.”

Artist, Mikarla Teague is determined to build a world where stigma around mental health is shattered.

Over the years, Mikarla’s work has brought her up close and personal with many at-risk young people struggling with their mental health. She’s been involved in life-saving initiatives, and seen first-hand the impact of art on youth in need.

“I have worked with over 5000 at-risk young people across South East Queensland over the last four years with my art therapy program, and was fortunate to be involved as an art therapist in the National Suicide Prevention Trial. There is so much successful data to support the fact that art helps with preventative measures surrounding suicidal ideation. For young people who don’t always have the literacy to explore their own mental health, art literally saves lives.”

The success stories are plenty, says Mikarla, but there’s one she’ll always remember.

“I worked with a young queer man who was so shy, with such debilitating anxiety, that he could barely speak. One day he started dabbling in poetry in our sessions, and this unique modality provided a profound creative outlet to articulate and process his mental health; it was incredible. He started to find his confidence and open up. Nowadays, he’s a scientist in a lab working on cancer research. He’s come so far.”

"Ghosts are Real" by Mikarla Teague is on display in the 2021 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.

Mikarla is determined to build a world where stigma around mental health is shattered. She says the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition is an immensely important piece of the puzzle.

“There is so much stigma and shame surrounding mental illness; people are afraid to talk about it, they think something is ‘wrong’ with you. But the way I see it, there is immense power and healing  in owning and sharing your story. That’s why this exhibition is so important; it brings us together, helping us feel less isolated and alone.”

As far as her own story goes, Mikarla is determined to practice what she preaches.

“I still dance with my demons – depression never fully goes away – but through art, I feel a support network. We’re all beautifully complex, and there is beauty in even the darkest of places within us. But that’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, things that we think are bad, or hold us back, can often be the most empowering when you allow them to be. When you find the support that resonates with you and creates an outlet to own, understand and embrace your mental health, it can become a source of real strength in your life.”