UnLocking is a National Lottery funded project by Breathe Creative working in partnership with Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Service in Cardiff.
Participants met weekly in online sessions facilitated by Katja Stiller over a period of six months from July 2021 to January 2022. Using different art forms we explored and expressed our emotions during these strange times of COVID-19; we looked at how it feels to come out of Lockdown, out of our comfort zone, and how we could unlock ourselves and our creative potential.
One group worked with animator Jane Hubbard and composer Jacob Meadowcroft to create the animation ‘Beyond the Lines’. Much of the artwork behind the animation is captured in a booklet and also in the exhibition ‘UnLocked’ which was launched online on January 7th 2022. The young people’s group worked with composer Tic Ashfield to record their creative writing and produce a soundscape and spoken word piece called ‘Through the Sands of Time’.
Artwork and words created by: Rhiannon, Sarah, Jacob, Bonnford, Jennifer, Debbie, Loraine, Jemima, Nick, Magdalena, Rain, Helen, Amy, Lianne, Aaron, Judith, Jet, Leandro, Shardine, Val.
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.
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.
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 beautiful animated film was created during the COVID-19 pandemic in our ‘Capturing Moments’ online (and community) Creativity for Wellbeing project. This project celebrated the creativity of women living in the Bridgend Borough and explored issues around isolation, connection, life, relationships, good times and hard times, and the things that were important to the women involved.
Using original artwork and creative writing from the group, animator Jane Hubbard created this short film with specially composed music by group member Andrea Rees. The project was funded by the Mental Health Covid Response Fund.
An online exhibition celebrating the creativity of women in Bridgend Borough, South Wales, supported by the Mental Health Covid Response Fund. The women worked with Breathe Creative online once a week to capture, through writing and art, their shared Lockdown experiences. These moments have been full of laughter, support and togetherness. They have illustrated how sharing creativity can strengthen us during difficult times.
Another creation by this wonderful group is ‘Future Dreaming’, an animation using original artwork and creative writing from the group, produced by Animator Jane Hubbard with specially composed music by Capturing Moments member Andrea Rees. This will be launched online in July 2021.
Our artists have been so amazing and prolific. We will finally be having an ‘in person’ exhibition of the latest art, creative writing and digital stories that have been produced as part of this project. The exhibition will take place in September 2021.
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.