CMHA Ontario staff participated in a workshop titled “Combat Stress and Express Yourself through Art” today over the lunch hour as part of the workplace celebration of Mental Health Week. The workshop was hosted by Dorina Simeonov, a policy analyst working at CMHA Ontario, who also happens to be an artist. The workshop began with a discussion of what staff enjoyed doing as children, whether it was drawing, sewing or baking. Simeonov then outlined how the creative arts such as drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing, making music and acting can be used as therapy. The workshop focused on art therapy which has many benefits, some of which include:
- Promotes positive mental health and wellbeing [i]
- Encourages empowerment and recovery from mental health issuesi
- Decreases symptoms of distress and improves quality of life for cancer patients iii
Participants then watched a video on Art Therapy and completed a mandala activity. Mandala is Sanskrit for “circle” or “whole universe” and is an ancient and universal symbol in many cultures. Participants were given minimal instruction and ended up drawing a variety of scenes and patterns using different colours and shapes. Mandalas are used as a drawing meditation for centering and integrating the self.
For more information and resources visit the Mental Health section of the Art Therapy Blog.
[i] Heenan, D. (2006). Art as therapy: an effective way of promoting positive mental health? Disability & Society, 21(2), 179–191. http://doi.org/10.1080/09687590500498143
[ii] Monti, D. A., Peterson, C., Kunkel, E. J. S., Hauck, W. W., Pequignot, E., Rhodes, L., & Brainard, G. C. (2006). A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) for women with cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 15(5), 363–373. http://doi.org/10.1002/pon.988