In schools, we can (and should) provide lonely students with tailored individual assistance so they can develop social and emotional skills and improve mental health and wellbeing.
Individual Art Therapy sessions provide students with the opportunity for an authentic connection where they can use art to explore feelings, develop self-awareness and empathy, and ultimately relate better to others.
However adolescents cannot improve social skills on their own. They need to practise using these skills and awarenesses in real social situations. Group Art Therapy is an ideal setting for this to occur.
"We are social beings in a social world" said Dr Helen Street, at the 2016 Positive Schools Mental Health and Wellbeing conference. In her presentation on "Classroom Glue", Dr S...
Last year I met the loneliest girl in the world. At least, that's how she described herself, and she certainly looked the part, always on her own in class, always on her own at lunchtime.
Sometimes, though, loneliness is less obvious. Other young people at the same school had friends, yet in our art therapy sessions they laid bare their feelings of heart-wrenching loneliness.
According to a recent Australian longitudinal study, 40 per cent of adolescent students believed they had no-one in or outside school who knew them well or who they could trust. (Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, 2015). This is alarming considering that loneliness is "a significant contributor to adolescent suicidality and mental illnesses such as depression and self-harm. Other significant adverse outcomes of loneliness include risky behaviours such as recreational drug use, violence, eating disturbances, obesity and sleep disturbances, alcohol use, and somatic complaints," (Mart...