Mental Health Awareness Week: Music and visual arts in Bridgend

13th May 2024

Since January we have been sharing weekly live music and visual art experiences at Tŷ Llidiard, a residential NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Bridgend. The project, funded by the Arts Council of Wales, involves our musicians Haz and Marged on violin and harp, working with visual artist Chris to bring a variety of music along with the opportunities to paint, draw, use chalks and create with air dry clay. The music and art together provide an opportunity for the young people and staff who are taking part to listen to the music but also be busy with their hands, enabling them to express their creativity and enter a flow state of concentration.

The weekly programme allows the musicians and the artist to develop a relationship with the staff and patients, learning the needs of the young people to personalise the session. One young person expressed that she needed to have direct instruction on making her art, which prompted Chris to provide an activity with opportunities for both structured and free expression the following week.

These sessions have been working to remove barriers between staff and young people, acting as an equaliser in the space. “They might see you in a certain way because of your age or your role or whatever, but then when we’re making and they see you might just be a bit rubbish at art it changes it.” said a staff member.

Staff are also able to learn more about the young people saying that “it gives an opportunity to connect in a different way”. The young people may not be very chatty during the activity, but they are able to express themselves in a different way and show their creativity as well as their interest in the music.

Young people are given the opportunity to feedback in the form of an evaluation tree, which they add leaves to. They responded about the feeling of peace that the sessions brought, with one patient saying “I feel the combination of paint and music made me feel calm and centered,” whilst others described how it brought about “calm in the chaos” of their stay on the ward or simply made them feel “free”.

Staff also expressed how they loved the calm and opportunity to join in something creative. Staff feel able to sing along to the live music, talk about their memories and experiences of music and enjoy the chance to create with clay. It is also an opportunity for people to enjoy themselves, with one member of staff crying from laughing so much at her own art work in a recent session.

We look forward to sharing more of this work with you as the project progresses.

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