Most of us admire creativity. Some of us also think that creative people are somehow different – obsessive, gifted, tortured in some way – a stereotype that is often perpetuated by our culture. Letting go of these ideas could allow more people to access the wellbeing benefits of creative activities, while also dispensing with a damaging mental-health myth.

There is a persistent trope on screen, in books and beyond, that creativity is the result of a fated convergence between talent and mental illness or obsession, and that it is elusive, something that only a few of us can tap into. It dates back centuries, but for contemporary examples, think Carrie Mathison taking a break from her bipolar disorder medication to solve a problem in Homeland’s “Super Powers” episode or Javier Bardem’s recent appearance as consumed poet Him in Aronofsky’s film Mother!

Beyond these romantic notions of art and suffering, there is a crucial link between creativity and mental health. Earlier this year a study found that GPs prescribing arts activities to some of their patients could cause a significant drop in hospital admissions. The positive impact that art therapy can have on helping returning soldiers has also been documented in recent years, providing further evidence that creativity can be therapeutic whatever your mental state.

In other words, we can all benefit from using our imagination – whether it’s drawing, dancing or singing, poetry or baking it’s not that important. However you choose to express yourself it doesn’t have to be perfect to have purpose. Read more