Supporting positive mental health through art

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re shining a light on the amazing art therapy Yasmin Baddley offers to many service users in Care and Support.

Yasmin has been working with our mental health services since 2019. In her own words she says: “I’m the one who turns up with my arms full of supplies. I always look like I’m moving house!”

She first worked with service users at All Saints, and when Covid put a pause on her work she continued with on-line sessions for those mid-course.

Now, she’s back delivering face-to-face sessions and has worked with around 20 NCHA service users in the last year alone. She’s currently delivering sessions at Bridge Street in Shepshed and Dale Street in Nottingham. 

Yasmin works one-to-one with service users. The conversations and the artwork they produce is highly private to that person.

She explains: “People often think that art therapy is essentially an art lesson, but it really isn’t. Art Therapists are trained to master’s degree level and must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

“Art therapy can help people with a wide range of issues and can allow them to explore feelings that may be difficult for them to communicate verbally. 

“It can be a very effective way to work with people who have traumatic histories, allowing them to explore difficult feelings in a visual way, which may feel safer for them. For the first part of our lives we experience the world primarily through vision, sound and touch, so art therapy is a great way for someone to work through old trauma, or when they simply cannot find the words. 

“Art therapy is very different to talking therapy. We have a visual representation that can hold a record of our sessions, so in the later part of therapy we can revisit work created earlier on. The art acts as a prompt and a mirror, allowing the service user to revisit previous discussions and emotions. At the end of therapy, I present the service user with a portfolio of their work. It’s a creative depiction of the journey they’ve travelled during our sessions.  

“We work on themes and topics that are helpful to the individual. By working with unconscious processes and exploring a situation entirely from their own perceptions and experience, the service user guides the sessions, the materials they use and the art they create. Giving them this choice can help them to gain confidence and a sense of control.”

Yasmin measures the outcomes of the sessions using the ‘recovery star’ measure. Recording results at the beginning, middle and end of therapy, helps her to keep track of any movements in certain areas such as confidence, self-esteem and trust in relationships.

Yasmin’s work is offered to service users, thanks to grants from BIG Lottery Fund and Leicestershire County Council’s Shire Community Grant.