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Express Yourself Creative approaches to youth wellbeing

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1 Express Yourself Creative approaches to youth wellbeing



4 National policy and research acknowledges gaps in provision/ access Young people say youth MH services are too institutional, alienating, associated with fear, stigma and discrimination, silo’d, only available when young people reach crisis, culturally inappropriate … Why is Express Yourself needed?

5 They want … more preventative, holistic, culturally appropriate, youth- focused, activity based, creativity, options which ‘normalise’ … information and tools to look after themselves … services designed WITH and BY young people Young people say they want a culture shift…

6 Shifting the kōrero… o Working together to rethink youth-friendly mental health services o Acknowledging the arts as a serious partner ‘Perhaps it is time to stop arguing for the role of the arts as a useful adjunct to health services and declare that the arts sector, by the very nature of what it does, is in the business of health’ (Mike White, Arts in Community Health: A Social Tonic, 2009)

7 Why Arts... a youthful contact lens? ‘Young people live through art. Music, film, Youtube, dance, magazines… are the languages young people speak… They create new scapes and senses, new ways of knowing and being. Both in and out of school, arts can be used as everyday ways of belonging to a community’ (Youth, Arts and Education, Anna Hickey-Moody, 2013)

8 Express Yourself… an arts based youth-friendly approach o Express Yourself ‘creative youth wellbeing’ o PILOT- still developing our kaupapa… programme… partnerships… team... skills… evidence… $... o For young people aged 11-24 experiencing challenges (prevention and intervention) o Referral process

9 We do… o Creative participatory projects, 1:1 mentoring, supported transitions into work, learning etc. o Tailored to each situation o Multi-artform - creative team artists and mentors o Creative processes, youth development and empowerment strategies to build skills, capacities, resources to participate, function and thrive

10 Creating a positive developmental environment Social model of health YDSA Positive Youth Development framework (normalising the task of navigating adolescence) 7 principles (YDSA NZ, 2002) o strengths based approach (wellbeing not MH) o big picture thinking (whole person/ ecosystem) o quality relationships o connectedness o active participation (voice, influence, life choices, power) o good information

11 ‘arts in community health’ o Not arts therapy – socially focused o Compliment to medical approaches o Community development/ partnership approach - building community capacity for change

12 Te Whare Tapa Wha – positive developmental environment Taha whanau (family/ social) o Social skills, relationships, participation o Engage youth with whanau, community o Support community capacity building/ self-determined approaches Taha tinana (physical) o Support health partners to engage with Maori youth Taha hinengaro (mental/ emotional) o Emotional intelligence/ resilience and coping strategies o Positive outlook, self-efficacy, self-esteem Taha wairua (spiritual) o Identity development o Promote cultural awareness and affirmation – use of cultural tikanga, artforms, mentors o Projects in Marae o Maori facilitators and partners

13 What works in Express Yourself safe inclusive space inspirational skilled facilitators creative experiential learning processes responsive to self-determined aspirations affirming identity relationships whakawhanaungatanga strong partnerships building tools and resources to participate and function (self care/ adaptive behaviour) reframing experience (strengths- based)

14 Young people tell us…

15 ‘Today I had fun not getting high’ ‘It helped them to bond with each other so back at Odyssey house they were more cooperative and able to support each other’ ‘Toi Ora is for the people who want to find the blue in their lives, not the grey’ Mood, relaxation, building community, building trust, reframing experience

16 ‘I made a friend’ ‘I enjoyed being with people again’ ‘they’ve been coming to this for weeks when they’ve dropped out of everything else’ ‘we just need somewhere to be to get support from people our own age in a place that feels normal’ Bonding, social skills, relationships, participation, belonging, motivation, stress reduction

17 ‘It helped me to tell my story in my own words’ ‘art is really the only way I can express my feelings in a way people might understand’ ‘it helped me tell people who I really am’ Feeling heard, valued, empowered, identity development

18 ‘I learnt helpful exercises on thoughts and feelings… knowledge about myself’ ‘I learnt patience and confidence and to trust the outcome of things’ ‘art helps with my self-esteem’ Confidence, self-awareness, self-expression, emotional intelligence, coping skills, resilience

19 Health referral organisations tell us…

20 Express Yourself… humanises medical approaches and institutions, addresses wider social determinants and negative outcomes of mental illness, and supports young people to have a voice in an adult-driven service o Is an effective compliment to clinical practice and clinical settings o Effectively addresses isolation, loss of confidence, stigma, self-esteem, anxiety, motivation, etc. o Offers age-appropriate non-stigmatising experiences o Motivates ‘resistant’ and ‘unmotivated clients’ o Facilitates more equitable power relationships outside of health service constraints

21 … creates vital opportunities to connect with peers, build resilience, and reframe negative perceptions o Offers a safe space to build relationships/ whakawhanaungatanga and explore issues with peers o Teaches vital strategies for coping and achieving success o Creates opportunities to reframe experience - try new things, reduce social anxiety, build confidence and resilience o Promotes cultural re-engagement/ identity affirmation o Is especially valuable for ‘clients’ with language/ communication/ cultural barriers o Engages participants with social networks, whanau, learning, training, work

22 Why Arts?... o Strong evidence that arts/ cultural participation promote individual and community wellbeing (AND a heated debate about what makes ‘good evidence’) o Locally arts in community health is not big news o Overseas - widespread recognition and development

23 Arts offer us languages to articulate and enhance human experience in ways that are outside of the traditional practice of medical science… ‘Factors which make for health are concerned with a sense of personal and social identity, human worth, communication, participation… celebration and responsibility. The language of science alone is insufficient to describe health; the languages of story, myth, and poetry also disclose its truth’ (Michael Wilson, Health is for the People, 1975: 59-60) ‘If the arts are about adaptation, understanding and acceptance, then the arts may be more potent than anything medicine has to offer’ (Richard Smith, Spend (slightly) less on health and more on arts, British Medical Journal, 2002: Editorial)



26 RWANDA ‘ We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better, there was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again, there was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy, there was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again. Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.’

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