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...
According to a recent report, one in five (20%) young people aged 15-17 met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness. Between 2012 and 2014, the proportion of young people aged 15-17 who met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness has steadily increased from 18.2% to 20%.
Access to mental health services for this age group is among the lowest, with barriers identified such as awareness, access and acceptability of services. There needs to be more services to engage young people that are not only evidence-based but also youth-friendly and appealing (Young People’s Mental Health Over the Years Youth Survey 2012-14).
Programs which offer support through the creative arts can be used to engage young people, assist in their recovery and promote positive wellbeing.
Recovery in the context of mental health, as is true for other debilitating illnesses, does not always mean a restoration of perfect health. Recovery can be about finding an ability to live with...