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34 Oostelijke Handelskade
Amsterdam, NH, 1019 BM

+31 (0)20 2629913

Beautiful Distress was founded on the concept that there is a great deal of mental suffering, that not enough people are aware of this and that not enough is done to stop it.

The Foundation uses art in an attempt to open up the world of psychiatry and battle the stigma attached to it.

Why art? Beautiful Distress believes that art is pre-eminently capable of articulating and depicting the human condition




We would like to invite you to the Beautiful Distress Conference on art, mental health and stigma, which will take place on Thursday December 7, 2017 at De School, Doctor Jan van Breemenstraat 1,1056 AB Amsterdam.

photo: anonymous 2003 - (c) Annaleen Louwes

Working together to ensure prejudice reduction
During this interactive conference, 200 participants from various interest groups – artists, patients and their families, mental health care professionals, policy makers and the general public – will exchange ‘best practices’, devise new solutions, and formulate recommendations to break taboos and cultivate a better understanding of and compassion for those suffering from mental illness.

The conference is part of the Beautiful Distress Art Manifestation on Mental Illness, an initiative of the Fifth Season Foundation and the Beautiful Distress Foundation. Both foundations organize art-in-residency programs in mental health organizations (Altrecht, Den Dolder and Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, New York respectively). Together with artists, a translation is made of the world of psychiatry to a large audience that does not come in contact with mental illness or psychiatry on a daily basis.

In addition to this conference, the Beautiful Distress Art manifestation consists of a manifesto, a two-part exhibition and various side programs, focusing specifically on young people. The views and observations of the artists, resulting from their intense experiences with patients and staff, will be bundled in an “Artists Manifesto”, which will be offered to all participants and form the starting point for the discussions.

The program starts at 9am and ends at 5.30pm. Chairman of the day is Jim van Os, Professor, Psychiatrist, and Chairman of the Brain Division at the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht), the Netherlands.

In the morning, various speakers will discuss their approach to mental illness from different angles. Speakers include, amongst others:

  • Graham Thornicroft, Professor of Community Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London
  • Eric van der Burg, Alderman of Health Care at the Amsterdam Municipality
  • Annaleen Louwes, Artist
  • Sven unik-id, Artist (with experience)
  • Speaker on behalf of the group friends/family

Workshops will take place in the afternoon with representatives from all the interest groups. Based on the artworks in the exhibition, participants will be asked to share their experiences and best practices in order to come up with new solutions to ensure a better understanding of and compassion for those suffering from mental illness. We will ensure that there is enough time for questions and discussions.

The recommendations resulting from the conference will be assembled in a publication that will be presented to policymakers in government and mental health care. Initiatives instigated and results obtained based on these initial recommendations will be discussed at the next conference.

The conference language will be primarily in Dutch. However, the keynote speech will be in English, and the afternoon workshops will be both in Dutch and in English.

The conference fee is €295 per person.
HBO/University students pay €50 per person.
(Former) patients and family pay €50 per person.

Please make a note on your registration form if you are unable to pay the fee due to a tight budget.

Would you like to join us? Sign up now.

More information about the program will follow upon registration.

Accreditation may be requested from the NVvP, the Quality Register V&V and the Nursing Specialists Register.

The Beautiful Distress Art Manifestation on mental illness is the first in a series of international events.


Kind regards,

Esther Vossen
Fifth Season Foundation

Wilco Tuinebreijer
Beautiful Distress Foundation

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The Beautiful Distress Art Manifestation is supported by: