Arts > ARTiculate Futures: creating a path to a peaceful mind

Posted on January 30, 2018

Karolina Szwak explores how young people can improve their mental wellbeing through creative activities
Looking after young people’s mental health and wellbeing has never been so important. According to a Public Health England (PHE) report, around one in ten young people have a significant mental health issue.

I’m not surprised to hear these figures. In my own case, the growing pressure at college and at home to achieve good grades, and my experience of being bullied, have both played a part in my sometimes-fragile mental health.

I shied away from social interactions, and was afraid to seek help or treatment. The PHE report also reveals that just one in four young people who need treatment for mental ill health receive it.

However, getting help doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult, and comes in many forms.

ARTiculate Futures (ARTiculate) is a programme at Community Focus, an inclusive multi-arts centre which supports mental wellbeing of people aged 16-25 living in Barnet. They provide creative programmes including activities such as painting, photography, dance, drumming and puppetry.

I wanted to meet the ARTiculate team to find out more about their work, and what makes them tick.

ARTiculate’s creative programmes are free and provide an inclusive, safe environment, where nobody is made to feel different or disadvantaged

ARTiculate is based in a large Victorian house in the middle of Friary Park, Friern Barnet. It is a very inviting light and open space, splashed with bright colours, paintings, collages, ceramics, and djembe drums lining the walls.

I was greeted with an eruption of smiles, laughs and bubbly energy from two young people, Samantha and Robbie. Their confidence was plain to see, which they both told me later had dramatically improved during the past years, with the support and opportunities provided by ARTiculate.

Samantha and Robbie have been coming to Community Focus for over six years. In fact, they have developed their creative and personal skills so much that they have recently become volunteers for the ARTiculate programmes.

“I love making new friends and just having fun,” Samantha beamed. Even when she feels troubled, she says, “I can get help and support from anyone at ARTiculate.”

ARTiculate’s creative programmes are free and provide an inclusive, safe environment, where nobody is made to feel different or disadvantaged, an essential start to improving mental wellbeing.

“My favourite activity with ARTiculate is probably ceramics”, says Robbie. “I love the relaxing and peaceful atmosphere it gives me.”

During my visit, I also had the opportunity to talk to Alev and Lili, the project managers for the ARTiculate programme. Their core team consists of five people who are all passionate about using creativity to enhance and celebrate the positive mental health and emotional well-being of young people.

It’s clear to see the massive amount of love and energy they put into their work

Alev and Lili deliver three to four creative projects at a time. It’s clear to see the massive amount of love and energy they put into their work.

Alev says, “We have a nice, family atmosphere here at ARTiculate.”

“I support a diverse, inclusive group of young people to express themselves through the arts”, says Lili. “My work is so rewarding. I see young people grow and develop — I love my job!”

When I ask Samantha and Robbie about their advice for young people who have struggled with mental wellbeing, Samantha says: “It’s often hard to explain how you feel to others, so writing down your thoughts or drawing a feeling can help you clear your mind, and start to express yourself”.

Robbie recommends meditation. “It makes me feel lighter and reduces anxious thoughts. It’s all here at ARTiculate.”

I can see how ARTiculate is so beneficial, I personally find creative activities allow me to process difficult feelings, an outlet to clear and calm my mind, and ultimately make me feel better.

If you want to get involved with ARTiculate Futures please contact Lili or Alev:
email articulate@communityfocus.co.uk.

* We have changed the names of the ARTiculate volunteers to protect their identity.

Please find ‘Exposure Asks’ ARTiculate, a project which explores the importance of young people’s mental wellbeing.

Our thanks to John Lyon’s Charity for making this project possible.

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Exposure

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Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice. Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.


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