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The art of recovery: group provides mental health therapy

By Maureen Eadie*

EVERY Thursday the sounds of delight and amazement can be heard coming from the art room at The Hobart Clinic on the Eastern Shore.

For the past year, the Creative Art Day Program has been meeting as a therapeutic group and comprises individuals who have been challenged by a mental illness.

It may be they have had time recovering as an inpatient at the clinic and then moved on to the program to maintain their wellness, or they have been referred directly to the program by their doctor.

Art is one of the most therapeutic mediums for expression of emotions and recovery. The value of simple art expression, such as colouring in, is well documented and evidenced by the numerous mindfulness colouring in books you see at every newsagency.

Creative Art program participants are encouraged to explore their creativity through such mediums as zentangles (simple ink drawing), pencil drawing, watercolour and oil paints.

Art teacher Jenny Kyng, who is also a nurse and counsellor, has introduced a mindfulness theme into the program encouraging everyone to be “more in the moment”.

Participants have shared how powerful creative art has been for them in reducing stress and helping them maintain a positive mental health. Many have discovered for the first time the great satisfaction from producing simple, yet amazing art pieces.

During Mental Health Week in October we are sharing the benefits of art therapy by exhibiting a selection of works produced by the Creative Art group at the Inka Gallery in the Salamanca Arts Centre from 8-15 October.

The exhibition is called “Postcards from Myself” and is a fitting tribute to the theme of Mental Health Week – “Mental Health Begins With Me”.

*Maureen Eadie is the program manager at The Hobart Clinic

Caption: The Hobart Clinic program manager Maureen Eadie, left, and Creative Art program nurse Jenny Kyng.