The Portable Wellbeing Studio is a project imagined and created by Ella Bryant and Alex Burr.
Both Alex and Ella are HCPC and British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) registered Art Psychotherapists who met on their MA training at the University of South Wales.
Ella is a dual experience Art Therapist who has been both a provider and receiver of mental health services. She also has 10 years experience as an art workshop facilitator working with a diverse range of people. She is a practicing visual artist with a specialism in sculpture and photography.
Alex currently works in Child and Adolescent Mental heath services as a mental health practitioner. She also has a community development background facilitating workshops and is a trained secondary school teacher. Alex also has her own arts practice, specialising in textiles.
With the combination of their experience and expertise, they have thought up the idea of taking art therapy on the move to people and places where it is needed most.
Mental health is becoming more prevalent in children and young people, 8% of 5 – 10 year olds and 12% of 11 -15 year olds have a diagnosable mental health disorder (Department of Health and Education, 2017).
And one in four adults experience mental health problems each year (Mind, 2017). Emotional wellbeing is important. It affects physical health and the ability to learn and achieve – it impacts on long-term social and economic wellbeing (NICE, 2009).
‘Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication’ (BAAT, 2017). Through using the art materials and building a therapeutic relationship, art therapy can help to explore difficult feelings with or without words. It can help with difficulties such as understanding and regulating emotions, building self-confidence, providing a different perspective on situations, and improving emotional literacy and relationships.
The inspiration for the project came from first hand experience of statutory mental health services which are over subscribed, in uninspiring spaces and rarely provide the level of psychological support a client needs. We love the idea of reframing mental health in a fresh and innovative way where working on your mental health is deemed a positive thing. We want to provide a mental health service that allows people to identify as an artist rather than a patient, in a space that is creative and nurturing.
We have a pilot project planned for 2019 in two schools, a primary and secondary. We will be offering 1:1 art therapy sessions and arts in health lunchtime groups. We will be working as part of the schools and alongside families, promoting mental health within the whole schools.
Our long-term vision for the project is to park up and provide residencies in different places, such as parks, housing estates, work places and rural areas. Once the studio is built, overhead costs will be relatively low ensuring that the project is sustainable.
So far we have secured funding from a local council to deliver the work in the schools. We were also granted £5000 to build the trailer from a local charity that provides seed funding for projects with a social impact. The schools are also paying a nominal fee to support the project. We designed the Portable Wellbeing Studio and the shell is currently being built (see www.instagram.com/theportablewellbeingstudio/for progress updates #theportablewellbeingstudio ).
We have started this Crowd Funder to ask for you help and support to fundraise for the final £3000. We need this to pay for the electrics, running water, furniture, art materials and legal tow licence so we can move the trailer between locations. This will complete the portable studio build and make it into a professional, safe, and inviting space ready to begin our art therapy work.
We feel passionate about helping to change the face of mental health. Having a Portable Wellbeing Studio that can go to where the support is needed without having the stigma associated with statutory services, is one small step we can make, that has potential to make big differences to people’s lives.
Music ‘Legoland’ by Michael Anguish taken from the album ‘Pearl’. www.facebook.com/Foxfacemusic
BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists) –www.baat.org/About-Art-Therapy
NICE (2009) Social and Emotional wellbeing in secondary school - www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph20
Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper (2017) (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664855/Transforming_children_and_young_people_s_mental_health_provision.pdf)