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How do Nevada artists use art to manage mental health? Podcast takes a look

AP Photo/John Locher

A man explores Omega Mart, an immersive art installation by arts production company Meow Wolf, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, depression and anxiety have skyrocketed, and Nevada has some of the highest rates in the country.

A recent CDC survey found that nearly 40% of Nevadans experienced those feelings on a weekly basis.

People choose to deal with mental illness in a variety of ways, some in a healthy manner, others not so much.

One noted way to improve mental health is through art.

And a new podcast from the arts and culture publication, Double Scoo p, examines the intersection between depression, anxiety and art by talking to artists in Nevada about how they manage their mental health.

KNPR’s Northern Nevada Producer Paul Boger spoke with Holly Hutchings, the producer and host of the podcast. She's also launched an exhibit to pair with the podcast.

About a year and a half ago, she said she was struggling to create. Anxiety and OCD blocked her. She thought other creators might feel the same way, starting before COVID-19, but amplified by the pandemic.

When she and Kris Vagner, the podcast's publisher, put the call out for artists going through mental health struggles, "we had an immediate and pretty overwhelmingly wonderful positive response."

They've since talked to Nevada artists such as Rob Garrett, Lance L. Smith, Jessica Schimpf and UNR grad Sogand Tabatabaei.

"I think if you get into someone's head and you learn the pains they have and how they process their pain, how they overcome and succeed, even though they're afraid, it was a huge buoy to me and a big strength to me to see their strength," Hutchings said.

Kris Vagner, publisher and editor, Double Scoop;  Holly Hutchings, host and producer, Double Scoop

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.