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Destigmatising invisible illnesses, creativity and work

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The arts can be difficult to navigate at the best of times, but what if your particular challenges are invisible? Here’s how the sector can pay attention, remove the stigma and better support individuals.

One of the arts industry’s most valuable resources is its people. People are relied on for their passion, their productivity, and in many cases, their willingness to go “above and beyond” to ensure the sector can flourish.

For anyone working in the arts, such expectations can exacerbate stress and tiredness, but for those with an invisible illness hidden from colleagues or employees, such expectations are simply unrealistic and exclusionary. What happens to your creativity and career when you can’t “push through”?

Stigma and preconceived notions of what illness and disability are often limit what people disclose, explains the co-founder of art collective Sickness and Stealth, Jessica Ibacache. This can result in lack of support, isolation, and marginalisation in the workplace and beyond.

‘Invisible illness can affect people in many different ways; no one experience is the same. People are very quick to judge on how someone appears physically, which can really affect the way people with invisible illness are treated,’ said Ibacache.

Larissa MacFarlane, who is participating in Sickness and Stealth’s current art exhibition, Invisible said the expectations of overwork when installing exhibitions or leading up to an arts event make it difficult for those with invisible illness or a disability to participate.

‘I don’t think that this behaviour is good for even healthy people,” said MacFarlane.

More: Destigmatising invisible illnesses, creativity and work | ArtsHub Australia

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