We are delighted to introduce our new Spotlight series, shining a light on healthcare professionals and the arts and health initiatives they are involved in. First up, we hear from Occupational Therapists Niamh Kent and Ailín Farrell from Waterford Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services.
Who we are
Hi! We are Niamh Kent and Ailín Farrell, and we are Occupational Therapists working in the Waterford Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). We use meaningful activity in our interventions with young people to help improve their wellbeing in their everyday lives.
An arts and health project we initiated
We approached the Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) to see if we could run a partnership group that would involve an arts medium. Many of the young people we work with have talents in the arts and many others have an interest but struggle to participate in community run arts activities.
Following consultation with WHAT, a music group for teenagers was agreed upon. WHAT provided posters that we displayed in the CAMHS department. We circulated the group information in the multidisciplinary team to open the group to all young people aged 14-17 attending our service.
The group ran once a week for 6 weeks during the summer holidays in 2017. There was a musician and WHAT music co-ordinator who led and participated in the group, and we were involved as adult participants in the group as well as facilitating attendance and engagement of the young people in the group. The group content consisted of singing warm ups, exploration of percussion instruments, group singing and group/individual song writing. Based on our knowledge of the needs of the young people and aims of the group we provided feedback between sessions to adapt the group structure to best suit the young people.
The use of a music group allowed us to connect with the young people in an area of their interest. It was activity focused and strengths focused which was positive and engaging. There was shared enjoyment of the creation of songs and singing, as well as self expression through individual song writing.
Why we think the arts are beneficial in health settings
Occupational Therapists in CAMHS use meaningful activities to work with young people with mental health difficulties. An arts project allows for this type of intervention/approach. It allows for strengths based intervention, which shifts the focus away from a person’s difficulties. The participants feel included, feel a sense of belonging, get enjoyment and release, and increase positive emotions. They get the opportunity to learn a new skill in a group setting in a supportive environment.