The use of community arts initiative to facilitate recovery: A co-productive strengths based approach in a mental health setting

Poster A61, Monday, October 8, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Jia Hui Kwan1, Yogeswary Maniam1, Swapna Verma1; 1Institute of Mental Health

In recent years, there has been burgeoning interest in the arts and healthcare agenda. This paper draws on a qualitative study to explore the impact of the concept of co-production in a community arts initiative, where art as a medium was used to initiate advocacy for the mental health community. This study examines how such initiatives may facilitate some key elements of the ‘recovery approach’ in people with mental health needs. 19 project participants with early psychosis, aged between 20 – 43, were joined by facilitators comprising of youth volunteers and artists to engage in the co-productive process. Artwork, themed ‘Uncovering strengths’, were collaboratively completed across 5 weekly workshop sessions, concluding with an artistic showcase. Evaluation was done during and upon completion of the art project. This included structured questionnaires completed by participants and feedback by facilitators. Engagement in art itself was recognised as psychologically therapeutic in facilitating self-expression, self-discovery, achieving sense of purpose and meaning. The co-productive, strengths-based approach avoided over-emphasis on the outcome and brought focus to the process of art-making. This appeared to enhance feelings of self-validation, esteem, acceptance, hope and empowerment. Along with the benefits of strengthening participants’ community networks and social capital, themes of trust and reciprocity were elicited from participants. The inclusive environment provided safe avenues to challenge perspectives of themselves and the internalised attitudes from social stigma. These indirectly build their capacity to self-advocate. Despite the study’s limitations, findings do suggest usefulness of co-productive, strength-based community arts initiatives in facilitating internal recovery.

Topic Area: First Episode Psychosis

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