World Mental Health Day – ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’

World Mental Health Day

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. 

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘mental health in an unequal world’. Research has shown that, since the beginning of the pandemic, some of the people struggling the most are those who were already facing considerable challenges in their lives.

World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us to think about, talk about and share our experiences of mental health. 

In our projects we encourage participants to reflect on the things they can do for their own wellbeing as well as sharing the things they have been struggling with, offering creativity and relaxation techniques in a safe environment, and supporting participants to become active agents in their own recovery and wellbeing. We work in a  person-centred way, allowing individuals to go at their own pace. We offer different arts activities to help participants process their emotions and learning, to express themselves, to have fun and to gain a sense of achievement. We work in a collaborative way with the aim of increasing participants’ self awareness, self confidence, social and communication skills.

Some of our Creativity for Wellbeing groups have been exploring and expressing their thoughts on the mental health and inequality theme this week and they wanted to share their thoughts with you in their own words and pictures:

Mental Health in an Unequal World

When you are in hospital with a broken leg or pneumonia you get visited 

by family and friends, you get lots of get well soon cards, maybe even flowers.

When you are on a mental health ward, you may not even get a phone call for days, 

visits are even rarer, and you never get cards.

You are made to feel that being ill is your fault when it is not.

Family and friends may feel ashamed or afraid to help, 

afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing.

Different diagnoses bring different amounts of help and different stigma and stereotypes. 

If you have money you can pay for your own counselling or psychiatrist, 

if you do not you have long waiting lists, you have to fight for help and it may take years.

The benefits system keeps people in fear with endless assessments 

and the threat of benefits taken away as soon as any improvement is made 

instead of supporting people to work in a limited capacity.  

I long to be able to return to work, 

I long for freedom from fear and worry, 

but in an unequal system it often seems impossible.

Sarah

Mental Health In An Unequal World

Having a mental health illness in an unequal world means we face many challenges, so many barriers to overcome. Some of us are already facing inequalities because of our race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. This along with the stigma of having a mental health illness means we fight to be heard, to be seen, to be accepted, to receive help and be treated. 

I dream of a world where everyone is treated equally, where discrimination doesn’t exist and individuals don’t have to fight for equality. A place where race and ethnicity is celebrated, sexual orientation accepted and gender not judged. 

I dream of a world where all countries come together like a helping hand. A hand that provides the help so many desperately need. One that enables people to get the support and acceptance, without judgement. One that provides a platform to enable individuals to achieve their hopes and dreams. 

A world where is support is provided for all those with mental health illnesses, as well as their families and carers. Where stigma and discrimination has diminished. A world where human rights are respected and each person is seen as being unique and special. A place where mental health does not affect educational opportunities or job prospects. Where governments across the world provide the funds needed to pay for the mental health treatments so many need, closing the gap between those who are wealthy and those living in poverty.

These shouldn’t be dreams they should be reality. Making a change today, is a small step towards having an impact. An impact on reducing inequalities and improving mental health services to provide treatment and support for all. 

No one should be left behind. 

Rhiannon

These projects have been made possible with thanks to our invaluable funding and support from Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Services, Cardiff Council, Mental Health Matters, The Baring Foundation, The Moondance Foundation, Mental Health COVID Response Fund, BAVO, InterLink RCT, Llynfi Afan Renewable Energy Park Community Benefit Fund, and The National Lottery Community Fund.

New Creative Listening Course

Painting of two people beneath the sea, listening
Creative Listening

 Mondays 11am – 1 pm for 15 weeks on Zoom from 27th September 

We have just started a new Creative Listening course which teaches listening skills using arts, creative activities and mindfulness. Improving our listening skills increases self confidence, improves our relationships with others and can also reduce anxiety and negative inner dialogues.

This course is being delivered by our facilitators Rhys Hughes and Katja Stiller (who also devised this Breathe Creative training programme), working with support from Millie and the Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach services team in Cardiff. Participants learn at their own pace and will receive a certificate on completion of the course. 

This project has been made possible thanks to funding from The Moondance Foundation.

Feedback from previous course participants includes:

It is a privilege listening to others and to be listened to

I have changed, I have become a lot more resilient

I feel safe and supported in this group

I enjoyed the session and having deep and meaningful conversations 

I am becoming more aware of others and of myself 

Uplifting, I really enjoyed the art and making friends.

Breathe Creative and Ty Canna with Funding from the Moondance Foundation 

Small Steps

Wave Painting

Small Steps 

This summer we have been offering on-line creative wellbeing workshops for young people using different art forms to explore how the pandemic has been affecting us and the techniques that have helped us manage. We have been working with support from our partners Ty Canna Outreach Services in Cardiff and their young service users, with funding for this programme from The Community Lottery Fund and The Baring Foundation.

Through a variety of different creative exercises, such as free writing, word association and working with themes and prompts, our group worked hard to create an expressive piece which represents how they felt stepping outside after being inside for so long. Some of our main focuses were nature, dreams and our concept of reality as people who experience mental health conditions.

We think that the film they created film represents a universal shared experience of how sometimes the only steps we can take each day are the small ones, and also that by connecting with the outside world we can start to reconnect with our own inner landscapes to improve our sense of wellbeing.

Here is some of the feedback from the group:

Working on this project has been an absolute pleasure and we are indebted to Katja, and the rest of Breathe Creative, for their help and guidance to create such an outstanding piece of work. Everyone involved should feel very proud and appreciate the immense effort and creativity that has gone into making this project.

I enjoyed working on the film and I particularly liked working with the sound engineer to put the music and spoken words together. I found the project quite therapeutic and I’m pleased with the finished result. I hope that whoever watches the film and listens to it will feel a sense of comfort and companionship and the awareness that they are not alone in the way that they fee l… The film is particularly good for encouraging and practicing mindfulness meditation as you focus on the sounds, words and images.

This art that we were able to compose as a group has been a coming together of incredible minds.  Sharing the colours of our lived experiences, thoughts and emotions paints a picture that is unique yet universal to all of us.  We are all under one sky, seeing with different lenses.

I can relate to the video. I feel trapped myself; the video will help others to understand what it is like to struggle with your mental health.

Breathe Creative has been a fantastic opportunity to communicate and share a creative experience with like-minded people. It is a welcome new addition to my weekly routines and I have found the expressive writing exercises to be particularly beneficial to my mental health. In this project we were able to work with Tic Ashfield, a music composer and sound engineer. Tic showed us how to manipulate the audio that we had recorded. As an aspiring music producer this was an incredible learning experience for me, I thoroughly enjoyed watching her bring our creations to life. I am grateful to have taken part in this project and would recommend it to anyone who’s struggling with their mental health and wants to express their creative flare!

Being involved in the Small Steps project was inspirational. Such a joy to see such creativity and individuality from everyone involved. The diversity and variety of ideas was incredible and how everyone came up with such good, different ideas from the same brief was awesome. It’s amazing what we can create when we work as a team!

‘Small Steps’ Animation Project Funding Success

Wave Painting

Hurrah!

We have received funding for a new animation project with Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Services in Cardiff. Our facilitators, Jane Hubbard and Katja Stiller, will offer weekly creative wellbeing sessions; listening to, sharing and working with participants over the next few months.

This project will help participants to find a more positive focus,  to manage their life transitions, build creative coping strategies and, hopefully, reach calmer waters.

Small Steps will run from June – October. This project has been funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

We keep you posted!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Sun on water

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10-16 May 2021. The theme this year is ‘Nature’. 

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Mental Health Awareness Week aims to get people talking about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can stop people from asking for help.

We want to hear your stories of how nature has supported your mental health. This might be as a simple as tending to a house plant, listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or writing a poem about our favourite nature spot.

Mental Health Foundation

We would like to thank our funders The Baring Foundation , Cardiff Council (for our work with Ty Canna in Cardiff), and the MH Covid Response Grant (Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board) for our project ‘Capturing Moments’ in the Bridgend area, with support from BAVO and Interlink RCT.

In the year ahead we are planning to build on our Mental Health for Wellbeing Programme with new projects and funding in the pipeline for exciting co-production projects with Mental Health Matters Wales and Diverse Cymru.

Favourite Places for Mental Health Awareness Week


To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 our online creative wellbeing group  at  Ty Canna decided to each  to walk to their favourite place,  describe what it felt like and  take a picture.  During the pandemic, nature and the beauty spots in our walking distance have become even more important. Allowing us time and space to connect to nature is not a luxury but essential for our mental health.

River scene
Bute Park Millennium Bridge

I just sat watching and really looking at all of the details that I hadn’t been aware of before. The way the water flows at different rates across the span of the river. The huge variety of trees and plants the range of greens but in so many shades, so many different textures. Realising that this was the habitat for so many different creatures I must have  seen at least 10 different birds all so busy and focused not a care in the world. Just doing what needed to be done. I watched as the clouds gently moved,  creating different shadows on the water. Why have I never noticed these things before?

Debbie

Being out in nature is a time to breathe, take stock and see how the seasons are changing.

The opportunity to see other people walking, a chance to say ‘hello’ and that brief connection with another human being, even though being out can be difficult and sometimes a struggle to achieve. That is so important to me, living alone. 

Nature is always there and for that I am thankful.

Val T
Sun on water

Sometimes when I’m locked in my own head, and my thoughts are spiralling round and round I venture to my favourite place, the sea!

This is where I can breathe in the crisp air into my lungs and let the wind blow away the negativity from my brain. I listen to the waves, lapping up on the shore and mumbling over the rocks. It soothes the soul. 

The seagulls chatter up above, looking for their next meal….the sun is setting, a red and orange glow as it sinks into the sea. The coast cleanses my soul, my body relaxes and my thoughts drift away into a blissful nothingness.

Mike F

Picture of Blossom

Cherry Blossom

One of my favourite places at the moment is Pontcanna fields. If I feel cooped up inside, it’s the best place to go to lift my mood and get the endorphins going. 

I walk down the avenue and feel free! The trees intertwine with each other and I feel like I can go on forever. I never feel alone, I am surrounded by others probably feeling the same way, smiling and acknowledging each other with eyes if we can’t see our masked smiles.

A coffee in my hand helps lift me; I make it last for as long as I can even if it gets cold! I was half way around the field when I spotted this blossom tree. The breeze blew the petals from their branches and they floated around my face like confetti. It had an amazing calming effect, amazing; tranquil, so I took this picture.

Jenny A

My favourite Place – My Garden

Garden scene

My favourite place and sanctuary is my back garden. I get to look at the lovely flowers I’ve planted and the work I’ve put into my garden to make it tranquil and peaceful place to relax. I sit outside listening to the wind chimes clanging in the breeze and hear the birds singing in the trees and the relaxing sounds of trickling water coming from my water features. Feeling relaxed in my peaceful tranquil safe space. Seeing my cat, Poppet, lazing around the garden in the warmth of the sun watching the clouds floating by breathing in the air releasing all the negative stuff from my mind. At night my garden comes alive with lights sparkling and twinkling in the dark from all the solar lights that make it look so pretty.

Zoe D
Wool

I love to sit in my garden watching the birds. Coal Tits, Sparrows and Wrens. All silhouetted by the sun shining down onto the Custard Yellow Barbarous.  They fly free, without a care in the World, unrestricted by Government Regulations.  Choosing to build their nests, lined with softest Llama wool, wherever they want. Six nests, safe in the Holly Bush, each twittering with hungry mouths to feed. Soon, they will fledge, fly away, to be replaced by a second brood.

They show me that life still goes on. That Nature in all her wondrous ways triumphs. Often against the odds. I soak up the Sun’s warm rays and forget, feel great to be alive. 

Lorraine B

I love Forest Farm.  Cycling there lifts my mood.  People are friendly and fellow nature lovers, I feel connected to them in our city oasis.  Last time a Great Tit fed from my hands.  I felt so privileged.  It’s an experience I will never forget.    

 Nature helps me to slow down, turn my face to the sun and breathe a bit deeper. 

Sarah D

My Favourite place in nature

I stride on the cobbles and smell in the concoction of sea air and fish and chips. The sky is blue and the pier is alive, with energy, candy floss and Brighton rock engulfs my senses. 

The seagulls perch on the cliffs as the sun radiates the beauty of the sea.

Amy K
Sunset

Horizon

My mind is a whirlpool

my body  made of concrete 

like a tiger in a cage I am pacing 

I grab my coat and start to walk

crossing familiar roads 

Avoiding   other walkers

my steps falls into a rhythm

my heart beat  slows

not far now

only one more corner to turn

I the distance I can see the horizon

I almost run down the steep hill 

To the waterfront 

Out of breath 

I watch the waves dance 

the seagulls sailing through the clouds

water washes the pebbles 

as it has done for 

billions of years

A gentle reminder of  the bigger picture 

I feel calmer 

breathing in the salty air

Everything slows down

Mind and body in sink

Re -energised

I make my way back home.

Kat

‘Beyond the Label’ Mental health project final report

Lockdown Map 2020
Lockdown Life 2020

In 2020 we partnered with Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach service in Cardiff, a Cardiff-based citywide recovery-focussed Outreach service for people with mental health needs.

Over a period of three months, from May to July 2020, service users met weekly online to create artwork and writing for an animation that reflects their lived experiences of mental health conditions.

The extra challenges of lockdown meant that collaborators weren’t able to meet in person, but this was overcome to produce this rich and wonderful collection of work, a selection of which was used by Jane Hubbard to create the animation.

As well as this, contributors worked with composer and sound artist John Rea to create individual sound pieces of themselves reciting their poetry, sometimes singing and playing instruments.

Check out our full final report on this fantastic project which was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Season’s Greetings

Cardboard house model

Gan ddymuno Nadolig Llawen iawn ichi a’ch teuluoedd a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Wishing you and your families a very happy Christmas and New Year

For a festive workshop with Ty Canna we designed a simple template of a house, so that each participant was then able to decorate it themselves, with an LED light to go inside, so the participants could carry their design to a small garden around the house. We spent a fabulous session talking about home, our lives and hopes for the future, whilst making our festive houses, all with much laughter!” 

(Emma Jones, Arts Facilitator, Breathe Creative)
Ty Canna Creativity for Wellbeing workshops (Beyond the Label)
Ty Canna Creativity for Wellbeing workshops (Beyond the Label)

This year we have been been very lucky to have had the opportunity to share creativity with amazing people, with many challenges, working mostly on line and using creativity for wellbeing. 

This has been such a hard year for everyone, but we have shared, laughed, cried, created, co-operated and connected.

Thank you to all our participants, funders, friends and partner organisations. We look forward to working with you in 2021. 

Stay safe.

Alex Bowen, Director, Breathe Creative

‘Beyond the Label’ Project, World Mental Health Day ‘Diamond’ Film Launch

Blue bird flying high

We are so proud to launch our project ‘Beyond the Label’, working creatively and using Arts for Wellbeing with funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and working  in collaboration with Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach service in Cardiff.

Over a period of three months, from May to July 2020, service users met weekly online to create artwork and writing for an animation that reflects their lived experiences of mental health conditions.

The extra challenges of lockdown meant that collaborators weren’t able to meet in person, but this was overcome to produce this rich and wonderful collection of work, a selection of which was used by Jane Hubbard to create the animation.

As well as this, contributors worked with composer and sound artist John Rea to create individual sound pieces of themselves reciting their poetry, sometimes singing and playing instruments.

Many thanks to contributors: Jen, Judith, Nick, Sarah, Mandy, Maddy, Ellie, Kate

Special Thanks to Lewis Rigley and Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Service

Facilitators: Katja Stiller and Sarah Featherstone

Animator: Jane Hubbard

Composer and Sound Artist: John Rea

We would like to thank the Lottery for financially supporting this project. 

Community Fund