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‘Art for Anxiety’ pieces go on display at NHS Maudsley

Art created by people supported at Ambient mental health services will go on display in Maudsley Hospital in partnership with Bethlem Gallery, South London, until 31st May and to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) from 15-21 May 2023.

Read on to watch the video
and view the online gallery.

Ambient launched our ‘Art for Anxiety’ workshops in several of our mental health services in London to provide safe and encouraging creative spaces for participants to explore MHAW’s 2023 theme of ‘anxiety’.

In partnership with NHS Trust South London and Maudsley, the art created at Ambient’s sessions will be displayed in the Bethlem Gallery space in Maudsley Hospital for all visitors and patients to view and enjoy from 01 April to 31 May, and an online gallery on the Ambient and Bethlem Gallery websites.

Carmel Woolmington, Art Strategy Manager at Bethlem Gallery and SLaM Trust, says:

“We are delighted to partner with Ambient Support for Mental Health Awareness Week. As organisations championing greater awareness and understanding of mental health, we share an ethos to shape a creative landscape which encourages this awareness, and support artists with lived experience of mental health services.

“Drawing on this year’s theme of anxiety, we hope this exhibition highlights the therapeutic impact of arts practice; that art can be a powerful form of expression; and a way to respond to anxious thoughts and feelings.”

Anxiety is a normal emotion but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem. The focus on anxiety for Mental Health Awareness Week will increase awareness and understanding of this, while research suggests that creative art activities can have a positive impact on mental health.

Melissa Charlton, Ambient Occupational Therapy Technician, helped to facilitate and co-ordinate the art sessions and observed the participants’ experience. Melissa says:

“Our mental health art sessions enabled the people we support to tap into their inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences of anxiety through creative expression. We encouraged them to talk about the images they created and to begin to look to themselves for meaning and insight.

“Combined with staff supporting the art sessions, it helped participants promote self-expression, increase self-awareness and self-worth, and decrease stress and anxiety. All who participated emanated satisfaction and enjoyment.”

An Occupational Therapy Assessment evaluated the impact of the workshops and found 92% of people demonstrated emotional connection and focus throughout the art session, 84% stayed engaged and focused, while 76% sought to challenge themselves. People who took part are supported by Ambient in a number of settings including care homes and supported living services. Some participants created artwork that depicted their thoughts and experiences around anxiety, whilst others used the art session to work through anxiety itself.

Ambient created a video, which you can watch below, capturing the highlights of the art sessions together with some of the artists holding their newly created artwork:

David, a participant of the art group, says:

“I enjoyed the art session very much, the painting that I did was in the moment. I think the art session helps to take your mind off any anxiety or problems you may be having”.

Gary, a participant of the art group, says:

“The art session was therapeutic, and it allows you to be artistic. My drawing depicts my anxiety and thoughts intertwined with mental illness; creating the artwork helped symbolise my thoughts and anxiety which helps with my wellbeing.”

Considering the positive feedback from the art workshops, and the benefits gained by those suffering with anxiety, Ambient’s Occupational Therapy team plan to facilitate future art sessions to further help the people they support.

View the full gallery below.
Click on the images to see them full size.

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