Visible Voices – Through the Looking Glass

Exploring depression with seniors through expressive arts making

 
The twelve-month, two-part program designed and delivered for residents in two long-term care homes in rural Ontario, Canada was funded by the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, part of the Bell Mental Health Initiative.
 
It was an emotional rollercoaster for me: the joy of sharing the creative process; the privilege of holding safe space where authentic self expression could flourish; my deep sense of loss and sadness when a number of senior participants died.
 
I am both proud and humbled by the entire experience. Proud of the seniors and their willingness to explore and experiment with me. Proud of our community for their powerful and honest art responses to the video. Proud of being part of meaningful conversations that helped to reduce stigma and foster understanding. I was humbled by the stories I heard around depression, not only from the seniors, but also from community members of all ages. The extent and depth of what is called depression is staggering.  The art making gave people permission and a degree of safety to  express their experience.
 
I can and do teach support people self-care techniques.  Now I need to follow some of my own advice!
 
Written By Fay Wilkinson, Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator, The Creative Cocoon
 

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