For those with mental health concerns or psychiatric disorders, art can be an excellent adjunct to conventional treatment programs. As the Canadian Art Therapy Association explains, "art therapy combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration and understanding. Using imagery, colour and shape as part of this creative therapeutic process, thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate".
Over the last few years, the concept of art therapy has been garnering more interest and popularity, and across the country new art programs and groups are emerging, some of which are specifically targeted towards those with mental illness. Here in Halifax, a new initiative called the Outsider Insight Project, offers free workshops to those with mental health issues. "Outsider Insight educates and supports artists living with mental illness through every step of the creative and commercial process. Whether it's brand new portfolios, a trip to the emergency room, or a cup of herbal tea, Outsider Insight uses and shares resources to help everyone in the program accomplish their goals" (The Coast). On top of all of that, Outsider Insight also offers coffee houses to help foster a sense of community and create a strong social support network for those participating.
The potential benefits and positive impact of this type of project are great, as The Coast article (found below) discusses further, "Outsider Insight is beneficial not only to individual artists but to the community as a whole. The program aims to make artists more productive, self-sustaining, and in turn, less of a strain on the system. The program aims to reduce its members' reliance on health care, social assistance and even homeless shelters."
You can find out more about Outsider Insight and other similar programs from around Canada by checking out the links below:
- "Outsider Insight Chance" by Jade Nauss (The Coast)
- "Slaying The Dragon of Mental Illness Through Painting" by Elizabeth Fraser (Winnipeg Free Press)
- "Art Therapy: Painting a Brighter Future for Mental Health" (CTV News)
- "Art Therapy Program Cuts Endanger Mental Health Says Patients" (CBC)
- The Art Studios Facebook Page
- "Unique Vancouver Art Program Saved By Anonymous Donor" by Scott McLean (Global News)