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Iontas: a new Arts and Mental Health Programme for clients of the Waterford Mental Health Services

Date posted: 23 April 2014

WHAT (the Waterford Healing Arts Trust) and the Waterford Wexford Mental Health Service (WWMHS) have joined forced to roll out a new arts programme entitled Iontas which offers clients of six mental health settings in Waterford participatory arts experiences in a range of artforms – visual art, shadow puppetry, music, writing and dance.

A team of skilled and experienced artists will deliver approximately 220 workshops as part of the Iontas programme in 2014 / 15. This programme marks an expansion of WHAT’s previous Music in Mental Health Settings programme which began in 2007 with Kevin O’Shanahan as WHAT’s first Musician in Residence. Since then, WHAT’s working relationship with the WWMHS has gone from strength to strength, and has led to music and health training for mental health nursing staff.

According to Mary Grehan, Arts Director of WHAT, ‘mental health recovery is an individual process and engaging in the arts is not a ”fix all” approach. Rather, it can be a meaningful and purposeful activity for mental health clients enabling greater autonomy and creative decision-making.’

Through Iontas, clients can access participatory arts opportunities on a year round basis in the Department of Psychiatry, Waterford Regional Hospital and the Activation Therapy Unit, St. Otteran’s Hospital. Iontas will also bring, for the first time, creative opportunities to clients of the acute ward in the Department of Psychiatry.

Some of the creative results of this programme will be showcased, where appropriate, through the second Well, festival of arts and wellbeing which will take place in Waterford in October 2014 in tandem with World Mental Health Day and Garter Lane Arts Centre.

WHAT acknowledges the financial support of the WWMHS, the Arts Council, Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council in making this programme possible.

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