The BA Community Mental Health, Alcohol and other Drugs course at Chisholm Berwick Campus provides a theoretical as well as practical base for trainee Community Mental Health and AOD workers.
During 2nd semester I led the 1st Year Community Development and 3rd Year Working with Children and Youth students through a creative journey to make a collection of mosaic heads with wonderful headdresses and mirror faces to bring life to the Berwick Campus Library.
Apart from enhancing the newly renovated library, the project had a number of other purposes :
To develop skills in students:
learning creative skills
creating as part of a community
working to a deadline
breaking tasks into manageable parts
To bring their awareness to:
the pleasure of creating art
the benefits of creating art to growing self-esteem
the feelings of calm and focus whilst creating art
the conversations happening across an artwork
how conversations start and stop during creative practice and how that differs from counselling, and where that may be useful
the role an artist takes in the creative process
the role a mental health/AOD worker has in supporting participants and making a project work well
how to negotiate with another person without causing hurt
how to encourage participants to have a voice in the project development and creative process.
the intense personal relationship makers have with their work – and that creativity and the work must be treated respectfully.
to a wide range of interventions that are available and useful in recovery from Mental Health and AOD issues.
Many 1st and 3rd students have had little involvement in the creative arts since their school days, and like many participants in the community projects I facilitate, some have for a long time, carried negative feelings of “not being creative” and of how others had responded to their artwork in the past. It was challenging for some to be involved at first, but by the end, all were surprised by their creations and felt the process had been very enjoyable as well as useful in developing relationships with other students and awareness in how creativity could be utilised in a recovery program.