Matters of the Art: Be Well bells ringing in hope

Matters of the Art
Burrell Behavioral Health is rolling out a movement of prioritizing wellness and mental health.
Through a new art initiative and a partnership with local artists, it’s encouraging the community to “be well.”

SPRINGFIELD, MO. — If at first, you don’t succeed, you try again. We have all heard that. And recently, that was precisely the case for Riana Clark as she worked on painting a bell for one of her latest projects.

“At first, it looked muddy. It just wasn’t coming across,” she said.

So, one week before she had to turn the bell in, completed, she decided to start over.

“I dumped gray paint over it,” Clark said. “I just had to trust myself.”

Clark lost her mother recently and said her art and this project, in a way, worked as an avenue for expressing emotions and healing.

“Paint communicates so effectively when words are lost,” she said.

Clark is one of three local artists who painted a bell for Burrell Behavioral Health’s Be Well Community.

Be Well was launched in 2020 to bring wellness to Burrell staff and its community through online events, like a Zoom meeting or a Facebook live, where people participate in self-care experiences like self-assessment activities, mindfulness, meditation, all to connect, share and learn with others. Businesses and organizations can also bring in Be Well activities to their staff.

“We know that to arrive as our true best selves, we must feel safe, and we must feel as though we are in healing connection with other people,” said Dr. Shelly Farnan, the vice president of the Be Well initiative.

Dr. Farnan says she wanted to connect the work in sessions to the outside world.

“Throughout various roles in my career, I knew we were missing something,” she said. “I was sending people home to zero support. I knew that while progress was happening in the session when we got out of there, the self-care wasn’t happening.”

She hopes Be Well will help create a safe space for mental health conversations outside a counselor’s office into the places we live, work and play.

“Do we have a brain? Yes. And if we have a brain, we have mental health; we have emotional health needs, we deserve to understand how our brains work,” Dr. Farnan said.

Now Burrell is expanding Be Well in a more visible and public way by bringing what Dr. Farnan calls a symbol of hope to life in the community through a bell.

The bells will be displayed at different locations around town. Next to them, you will find a QR code that you can scan with your phone and connect to mental health resources in the community.

“If we can empower all of us about our mental health, it can be world-changing, hopefully,” Dr. Farnan said.

And Clark hopes people can relate to her bell and see themselves in what she’s created.

“I wanted there to be order in some parts symbolizing the monotony, routine of life. And then I wanted something to interrupt that. And those interruptions can be really disturbing sometimes; they can be great; they change your picture,” she said. “But when you step back and look at it, it’s all beautiful.”

And ultimately, their hope is to ring in the beginning of a movement.

Burrell will unveil the bells at the Springfield Cardinals game Thursday, Sept. 9.

One of the bells will be on Burrell’s campus, another will belong to OACAC, and another to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. And Burrell says these are just the first three bells; they hope there will be many more to come.

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