Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre is pleased to introduce a new fully-funded 10-week art workshop starting this Thursday, the 21st of January, for people living with ongoing health concerns. The course will be online via Microsoft Teams every Thursday at 10:30am, and will be run by one of our Healing and Expressive Recovery Arts (HERA) workshop facilitators, Suzie Poyntz. Spaces are limited so to book your place today. Please email our HERA administrator, Ben Taylor, at email@example.com or send a message/call him on 07497 142264.
Why you should sign up to this workshop?
Art can be done with others and if you are alone or shielding. You can do art anywhere and any time, with any materials. It is fun, mindful, boosts creativity and enhances problem-solving. You will be joining an online group that is friendly, safe and where you can explore new skills. You can be at any stage and no previous experience is needed. The aim is not to judge your ability, but to develop talents, support and inspire you, and enhance your wellbeing. You can work from home, taking inspiration from your immediate environment. Art belongs to all of us. All of us can be Art-makers.
Why is Art good for lockdown?
Lockdown has been stressful for many of us. Adapting to this new normal may feel overwhelming and some of us feel anxious juggling all the different areas of our day-to-day existence — family, work, friends, relationships, money. We can find ourselves stressed out, so we may snap at people, overeat, oversleep, and do lots of other things that don’t really help. But there is something simple and inexpensive you can do weekly or daily to reduce your stress levels and that is… art!
Drawing can give you a sense of peace and calm. When you focus on that one activity, you can block out the rest of the world and not worry about things that might happen in the future. Drawing brings you back into the present moment because you have to pay attention to what you are doing. There is a sense of accomplishment and you may feel like you have made a real statement. There are no wrong answers – so you can’t make a mistake.
Art is widely recognised as a helpful way to boost wellbeing in so many different ways: to aid communication, to alleviate depression, to uncover hidden meanings and conflicts, but it doesn’t have to be a big cathartic expression of inner turmoil to have healing benefits. Even a small amount of creativity is good for us.
Who is running the workshops?
Suzie Poyntz is a Brighton-based painter and mixed media artist producing colourful reflective work, including still life, portraits and landscapes; she runs a variety of community-based art workshops for adults and children in the city. Suzie has been facilitating workshops at BHWC for three years and many BHWC patients have told us about the benefits of her previous workshops.
The science behind Art for mental wellbeing
As a study led by Dr Daisy Fancourt, UCL senior research fellow working with BBC Arts found, getting to grips with something new and creative is good for our mental health regardless of skill level. The research, conducted between March and May 2018 among a sample of 47,924 respondents across the UK, found that doing something creative can help people see problems in a new light.
Making something new is also great for our confidence. ‘People can be surprised by what they achieve and this can spill over into other aspects of their lives,’ says Fancourt. ‘A great example is the Choir with No Name, which is a choir for people affected by homelessness: 70-80% of people who take part go on to volunteer or find housing and leave the streets.’ While real-life choirs might be out of bounds for the moment, that shouldn’t stop us from flexing our vocal cords in one of the many online groups that have sprung in the pandemic – such as
HERA’s own Sing For Better Health.
Getting busy with a sketchpad or journal can protect us in all sorts of ways. According to one study examining the links between art and health, a cost-benefit analysis showed a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in hospital admissions when patients were involved in creative pursuits. Other studies have found similar results. For example, when people were asked to write about a trauma for 15 minutes a day, it resulted in fewer subsequent visits to the doctor, compared to a control group.
Why we see these responses isn’t clear, though when we’re really into our creative ‘flow’ many of us fall into a state similar to deep meditation. Hours flash by in minutes and for once we’re free of that nagging, critical inner voice. This flow state can even bring about changes in our body, as shown by a 2010 Swedish study on classical pianists, which found that heart rate slowed, breath deepened and, rather wonderfully, the smile muscles were activated when the musicians really got into their groove.
Healing Expressive and Recovery Arts (HERA) Project at BHWC
The HERA arts project is a network of programmes using the arts and creative practices that enhance the quality of life, health and wellbeing of our patients, staff, and community.
We provide access to high-quality arts activity in NHS Primary Care. These activities are specifically designed to improve the functional health and wellbeing of participants whether they are suffering from physical or mental illness or a combination of both.
Since 2014, the Hera Project has been funded by Arts Council England, Brighton & Hove City Council and The Robin Hood Health Foundation to support the health & wellbeing of people living with long-term health concerns. BHWC patients can access the programme and can refer themselves without having to see a doctor.
Other workshops delivered at BHWC by HERA
While activities such as creative drawing and writing can help you vent your emotions, other things like knitting or crafting can give us some space and a safe haven away from our stresses, which might provide a chance to think things through and find solutions. New sessions are starting this month for our arts & health groups, in Visual Art (for adults), Visual Art (for teens), Music Theatre & Dance, Creative Writing, and Photography. Our weekly drop-in sessions for Dance & Movement and Singing for Better Health are also open, and we are lining up a new Creative Coding session. Over the next months we will give you, our patients and our readers, more information about each of the workshops we have run and what they have achieved for our patients. If your health & wellbeing needs a boost, one or two of these workshops may just be the thing for you.
Integration of conventional, creative, and complimentary medicine at BHWC
We also offer a variety of complementary therapies at BHWC. We are constantly working to integrate this further into practice to widen the potential treatment options available to patients. This reflects the basis of our values and belief that medicine extends beyond medication.
To book a place on Suzie’s drawing workshop, or any other HERA workshop, please email our HERA workshop co-ordinator, Ben Taylor, at firstname.lastname@example.org, send him a message or call him on 07497 142264.