Mental health arts project wins funding

By Jo Makosinski | 31-Oct-2023

Arts & Minds project wins support of Arts Council of Wales, providing support for parents

A team of health professionals at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has won funding from the Arts Council of Wales to support parents experiencing mental health challenges.

The 1,000 Days project is part of the Arts & Minds programme, providing creative interventions for parents who need support to bond with, and raise, their children in the first few years.

Through the programme, which is now in its third year, service users use music and movement to support mental health recovery and wellness in the first 1,000 days of parenthood.

Sarah Goodey, arts development manager, said: “It is testament to the hard work and innovation between creative and clinical practitioners to design a bespoke creative activity for parents.

“Year three will see the project continue to deliver, with more sessions for participants and making deeper connections to follow-on activities in the community with third-sector organisations.”

Documentary drawings of creative sessions in Newport and Cwmbran made by artist Geraint Ross Evans

Documentary drawings of creative sessions in Newport and Cwmbran made by artist Geraint Ross Evans

Each group involves up to eight parents – either mothers or fathers – with their babies and is led by a team of staff including a lead artist and visiting artist, assistant psychologist or placement student, and a peer mentor or dads’ support worker.

Lead artist, Deborah Aguirre Jones, said: “Creativity can be seen as a set of skills for making objects or performances. However, we chose to focus instead on processes and interactions.

“Particular media and activities were initially introduced so participants could relax into their bodies in a spacious, safe space alongside others.

“In the turmoil of new parenthood, this non-judgemental space allowed for a creative connection with self and core values.

“Participants seemed more able to notice, allow, and represent feelings which might otherwise be difficult or overwhelming”

Assistant psychologist, Laura Bolton, added: “The activities and content varied from group to group, and session to session, but a thread which ran through them all was articulating experiences through creative means.”

“The vast majority of words [used to describe the project] were encouraging, such as ‘friendly’, ‘mindful’ and ‘fun’, and even ‘inspiring’, ‘carrying’ and ‘embracing’.”

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