Mental Health

Mental health issues are among the most common vulnerabilities we face: in our communities, in our families, in ourselves. My professional work focuses on mental health in a variety of ways, and the articles in this section reflect the diversity of that work. I specialize in the confluence of mental illness, addictions, and trauma – which, for most people who struggle with these issues, are all aspects of one thing and not three different things. I emphasize current research and the many ways we can build resilience and wellbeing both for ourselves and our communities.

The Jasper Queen

An Ancient Face Reminds Us of Our Humanity

June 18, 2021, 6:46 p.m. • Ross Laird

Fragment of a Queen’s Face is the title given to this sculptural fragment in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Crafted sometime around 1350 BCE, during a time of great turbul...


Object Lessons

Trauma-Informed Practices in Museum Settings

June 18, 2021, 10:49 p.m. • Ross Laird

The oil lamp is small and fragile, worn down by almost two thousand years of accumulated grit, corrosion, darkness, and time. It was shaped by hand, with unfired clay, by a refugee fleeing Roman ...


Big Problems: Small Wonder

Wandering, Wonder, and Creative Pathways

June 18, 2021, 8:54 p.m. • Ross Laird

Got a minute? Try this small but illuminating experiment. Above is an image of the Milky Way Galaxy. Focus your attention on this image for one minute. Don’t do anything other than look at the im...


Mental Health and the Creative Encounter

A Conversation with the Vancouver Art Gallery

June 30, 2020 • Ross Laird

Art objects have always offered a point for departure to explore emotions, perspectives, and the imagination. How are object interactions impactful in...


Canada’s Inaugural National Conference on PTSD

On Healing Trauma in Canada

June 18, 2021, 8:08 p.m. • Ross Laird

I was invited to present at Canada’s inaugural Conference on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The conference was focused on ways that new legislation might support those with PTSD, provide pathway...


Inaugural First Responders’ Mental Health Conference

Trauma, Healing, and Pathways Forward

June 18, 2021, 8:17 p.m. • Ross Laird

Firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement officers experience traumas and stressors on the job that are unlike those seen in most other occupations. It’s not surprising, therefore, that recen...


Mental Health Considerations for Museums

An Emerging Field of Practice and Discovery

June 23, 2021, 11:53 p.m. • Ross Laird

There is a growing trend in museum practice to evoke — and perhaps provoke — emotional experiences for visitors. The practices of direct creative engagement — touching, making, symbolic represent...


Working with Grief, Trauma, and Related Challenges

Museums Offer Much Potential for Healing Work — But Safety Must be a Primary Concern

June 24, 2021, 12:04 a.m. • Ross Laird

New and powerful museum exhibition trends include a greater focus on emotional engagement and linkages to broader social activity. Most notably, disruptive exhibitions convey sensitive and cont...


Therapeutic Objects at the 9/11 Museum and Beyond

The Meaning and Use of Personal Objects in Complex Trauma

June 24, 2021, 12:28 a.m. • Ross Laird

Tragedy strikes New York on September 11, 2001. Afterwards, survivors, first responders and victims’ relatives experience the healing impact of donating personal objects to what will become the 9...


Resilience and Well-being in Turbulent Times

A presentation for the Ontario Museums Association

June 30, 2021, 1:49 p.m. • Ross Laird

During a time of turbulence and stress, how can we stay emotionally healthy and connected to ourselves and those around us? What kinds of coping are n...

Mental Health