Supervising Art and Design Students Who Integrate Mental Health Experiences with Autobiographical Research
This article discusses some implications of working supportively with art and design students who manage mental health conditions in a postgraduate environment in a New Zealand University. The paper begins with a discussion of contesting research that considers relationships between highly creative thinkers and certain mental health conditions. It then proposes that, irrespective of arguments around correlations, supervisors are able to make a significant contribution to supporting candidates who combine autobiographically sourced knowledge with artistic inquiries into the experience of living with a mental health condition. In considering this proposition, the paper employs two case studies that illustrate certain strategies that proved useful when seeking to maximise the chances of successful and productive thesis completions. Working in tandem with wider institutional and therapeutic support, these strategies functioned alongside each candidate's research journey. Eight of these approaches are discussed in relation to a pedagogically responsive, informed and creatively supportive environment in which the students were able to develop complex and insightful research projects.