To honour World Mental Health Day this week, singer-songwriter and youth mental health advocate, Arlo Parks a High Profile Supporter at UNICEF UK met with three members of the Youth Advisory Board to discuss and co-write a poem about creativity and healing.

In this interview with Arlo, she discusses her own mental health journey, how this has shaped both her music and newly released poetry book, The Magic Border.

Bethel: Could you tell us more about the impact of UNICEF’s work on child mental health in the UK and worldwide, and why is this cause meaningful to you?

Arlo Parks: I think the main pillars of what UNICEF does for children’s mental health are visibility, compassion, education, and nourishment. I think that dismantling shame, giving young people the tools to not just cope but move towards a more joyful and peaceful place is so immeasurably important.

Bethel: Opening up your personal space through poetry can be a vulnerable experience. What inspired you to share your work with others?

Arlo Parks: A desire to help others, a desire to create things that others see themselves in, a desire to create community and inspire others to be creative in their own way.

Bethel: You say “This book is no longer mine. It is yours.” What do you hope your readers take away from your work?

Arlo Parks: I hope that this book is a refuge for people, I hope that it brings much needed softness to their lives, I hope that they see the heart and friendship that went into creating it.

Bethel: Can you recount any moments that had a significant impact on your journey as a poet/artist and influenced your decision to share your work?

Arlo Parks: Reading Bluets by Maggie Nelson and being so overwhelmed by the beauty and sensitivity of that novel, reading ‘Devotions‘ by Mary Oliver and ‘On Earth we’re briefly gorgeous‘ by Ocean Vuong – my most inspiring moments were the moments where I sponged up something meaningful, it brought me courage and made me feel like sharing my work would be an act of good.

Bethel: From your perspective, how does creativity contribute to the promotion of mental health and well-being, particularly among young people?

Arlo Parks: I think it helps in small ways and huge ways – it can be a distraction, a coping mechanism that might replace a self-injurious one, it can open worlds, build confidence, create friendships and make people fall back in love with the world.

Bethel: What message of encouragement or support would you like to share with those who may be currently struggling with their mental health?

Arlo Parks: That you are not alone in this. It feels huge and painful and endless but there is relief and help in sight. You are not alone in this.

“Being free to express myself through art and language is a pivotal part of my self-care and mental health journey. The opportunity to collaborate with Elena, Lauren, and Sam – to learn from them, to pool experiences and create together has been amazing. With UNICEF, I hope to continue to shine a light on voices of young people because they are the future – we must hear them, we must nurture their imagination, we must advocate for their rights.” Arlo Parks, UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter

Make sure to check out the poetry book, ‘The Magic Border‘, and view UNICEF Youth Advisory Board’s performance of the poem below!

Discover more from GUAP’s Music section here!