Local artist in Residence Lou Gannon knows the impact of using art as a creative outlet for those who battle mental health issues seeing firsthand the positive change it brings to people’s lives.
It was thanks to a generous donation from a special donor that Lou began her residency at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) in the Mental Health Unit as part of the Artist in Residency (AiR) program, receiving enough funding for the first half of this year. Her residency was positively received by both staff and patients and the Mental Health Unit wanted Lou to continue.
Thanks to the Centre for Creative Health (CCH), an affiliate of The Hospital Research Foundation, the AiR program has received enough funding to continue until the end of 2017.
“We are hoping the AiR program will continue beyond this year and we will be looking at how we can support mental health with arts projects over the coming years,” said CCH Director, Michelle Cripps.
With a background working in the mental health field for many years, Lou currently runs two 90 minute weekly sessions in the mental health ward at the RAH, where patients have the chance to focus their minds on a creative outlet in a specialised area.
“I established the art therapy space as a safe environment for patients so they would feel comfortable enough to express themselves creatively with no hesitation or judgements from others,” Lou said.
Lou put a lot of thought into the art activities she chose based on past research and the symbolism behind the activity.
“I came up with the idea to base the classes around using puzzle pieces as a symbol for patients that everyone is a unique individual and we all have a connection and place in the world. The puzzles have no boundaries signifying an unfolding story and the patients’ journey.”
The AiR program has received positive feedback from patients and Lou believes continuing the program is crucial for inpatients trying to overcome their mental health battles. With the help of donations to CCH the program at the RAH can continue supporting those who need help.
The artwork from patients will eventually be displayed in the mental health area of the RAH, using this as an opportunity to show new patients what they can achieve with this creative outlet. With your support Lou hopes to continue providing this program and using art as an outlet to help patients.
“I do hope to continue the AiR program. I’m really passionate about offering creative channels for people in hospital situations and the philosophy behind art therapy. Sometimes it’s good to remember that a person as a person, not just someone who is ill or defined by their illness.”