Mental Health

Circle of Friends

“Healing Through the Arts”

By: Rylee Kotzin

Why is this Organization Important?

I was instantly intrigued by this organization. I personally deal with mental health challenges, as I believe many college and young adults do as well. It heavily affects the way of our learning in and out of the classroom and can be a huge takeaway of how we behave in the classroom. Circle of Friends is an organization that gives people the opportunity to find themselves through visual arts, music, writing and drama. I personally really connect with this organization as one way for me to able to deal with my mental illness is dancing. I have been a dancer my whole life and I truly believe that the art has given me the chance to express myself physically and mentally. Circle of Friends provides the space and freedom for people to find their way of expressing themselves through art.

History of Organization

Circle of Friends was founded in 2002 by a various group of people, Dr. Sarah Nash Gates (NAMI personnel), Kirkland Arts Center Artists and the Raging Granny singers. It began as a project and having no funds. The group decided to pick three sites for gift making. The pilot project had creative arts and crafts available for people to make. The first project was a big hit and took off from there with weekly art classes. There are currently eight different location opportunities for people to give them a chance to take an art, photography, creative writing and drama class, read poetry, and just be able to express themselves through different ways of art.

Whom do They Serve? Programs Offered?

Circle of Friends serve many different people that have wide-ranging needs. Majority of the people are ones dealing with mental health challenges, homelessness or addiction. However, really anyone is allowed to join the weekly art classes that are held. Circle of Friends makes the event a judgement free environment and welcomes anyone that comes from a diverse, economic background. There are not necessarily “programs” offered, although, they have partners that is working with the organization. Friends of Youth, a non-profit organization that serves youth and young families facing homelessness and other health challenges. Foundation for International Understanding Through Students, is an organization for student leadership, cross-cultural experiences and more.

What Could They do Better?

Overall, I am very impressed with the Circle of Friends website and how clear everything is. However, I noticed that there are no outside perspective or reviews of Circle of Friends. I personally believe that it would be a great addition to the website so the reader has a better understanding of the organization and the information is not just coming from Circle of Friends. Yes, there are news articles on Circle of Friends, but I would like to see reviews from people that consistently go and intend the events. In addition, The donate section of the website personally seems a little bare and needs more. There are just a few statements on the page and I would like to see either some more images or possibly some other people’s personal experience with the organization and explaining why we should donate.

Was the Information about the Organization Accessible? Red Flags?

All of the information given on the website seemed very accessible. Everything was clear and well thought out. Very minor, personal opinionated suggestions, however, the creators of the website had all aspects of what a great non-profit organization should look like. I did not come across any “Red Flags” or anything concerning on the website.

What other organizations are doing similar work?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) located in Seattle is a similar organization. NAMI focuses on people impacted by mental illness and help them improve on education, get them support and referrals.

Works Cited

Circle of Friends for Mental Health. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.circleformentalhealth.org/

Nami Seattle | National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://namiseattle.org/

Circle of Friends for Mental Health. Facebook. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.facebook.com/cofmental/