How We Started Offering Immediate Mental Health Support, Without Any Waiting Lists

When Emma and Peggy suddenly lost the jobs they loved, they started a business on a shoestring, to offer mindful art groups, support mental health and tackle social isolation in the Plymouth area.

Mental health services were already overstretched and the pandemic has made that even worse. Mindful Art Club gives people a way to access help and support immediately, without a waiting list, and without finances being a barrier to access.

Emma and I are helping to create a world where peer support, mindfulness, creative activities, and social connection is more easily available in local communities. 

Peggy Melmoth

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If you’ve ever felt stressed, anxious or depressed, we have a free downloadable mindful colouring bundle with zen doodling exercises for you. Just enter your email now to receive our colouring bundle today, and we will write to you monthly to let you know about our latest free and low-cost events in the Plymouth area.

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Zen Doodles: 3 Week Course Online

We are happy to be launching a new online course with Devon Recovery Learning Community.

Zen doodling is a kind of meditative drawing practice which can be used to easily calm your mind.  Zen doodles are just repeating patterns; no artistic talent is required.

Zen doodling combines meditation and art.  Learn to practice relaxation exercises and art for self-care. The session includes five minutes of guided mindfulness, a simple art project that can be done at home just with felt tip pens, and the opportunity to chat while we are making the zen doodles and to relax.

In this course you will create zen doodles while learning about the philosophy and benefits of zen doodling:

  • Improves mental health
  • Improves social connection
  • Teaches new skills (relaxation exercises and art for self- care).

We start with a ‘check in’ to see how everyone is feeling. There is no obligation to speak if you don’t want to. We end the group with a ‘check out’ to share how everyone is feeling after making zen doodles.

This online, three week course will start on Thursday 4th March, then the 11th and 18th March.

Booking is essential and places are limited: Zen Doodles Book Now

You may also like: Create Your Recovery.

Not ready for an online course? Try zen doodling at home instead, with our free mindful colouring bundle.

Comic Relief to Fund Womens Group

We are pleased to have been granted new funding to offer mindful art sessions to any Plymouth women in need of support.

The Comic Relief Community Fund offer help for projects that are in line with their theme of Mental Health Matters. These are projects that support good mental health in communities, improve access to support and tackle stigma and discrimination.

This funding will allow us to deliver 12 weekly mindful art groups at The Sunflower Women’s Centre. The issues being tackled are social isolation and poor mental health. We address these problems by using creative activities to make it easier for clients to engage in meaningful conversations.

The Sunflower is a trauma-informed women’s wellbeing hub, providing opportunities for any woman who has support needs.  Women receive support in addressing and resolving substance abuse, childhood trauma, criminogenic behaviours, domestic violence or poor mental health. The centre offers a range of therapeutic activities, accredited programmes and practical support in a safe, nurturing, substance-free and valuing space for women to move from their pasts, develop their skills, regain their self-worth and go on to flourish and thrive. The Sunflower Centre has over 500 registered service users.

Mindful Art Club will offer these women peer support for common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. New friendships are formed in our groups which combat social isolation, and we will also teach new skills such as how to use mindfulness and art for self care.

We would not have received this funding without the generous help and support of the staff at The Sunflower Women’s Centre, and the funding advisors at POP. POP ideas is a service delivered by POP+ and Iridescent Ideas CIC that provides advice for small, large, new or established voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in Plymouth. 

Page 10, Plymouth Chronicle January 2021

If you’d like a place on one of these groups after the current lockdown ends, you will need to register with The Sunflower Women’s Centre and ask to be added to the waiting list for Mindful Art Club. Their staff is limited during lockdown, but you can leave a message at 01752 977614 . Groups at The Sunflower Centre are small, socially distanced, and organised with a number of Covid-19 safety measures in place. These sessions are permitted by current law, as support groups.

Here’s what some of our previous clients at The Sunflower Centre have said about us:

“I have found this group very helpful in my recovery. My biggest problem is ISOLATION. So to have this group is a lifeline. I also struggle with substance misuse, although, (thanks to help), I am clean and sober. It is nice to have a space that is non-judgmental where we can check in and connect.
I love art anyway, and find it very relaxing and engaging. But it’s so much more therapeutic to do it with others. Many thanks.”

Anna (Shared with permission).

Mindful Art Club on PTown Radio

In this relaxed and fun radio interview Chi asks Emma,

What is Mindful Art Club?

Where in Plymouth does it happen?

And who exactly is it for?

Emma Sprawson talks to Chi Bennett on Show and Tell With Queen Chi, PTown Radio, (15/01/21) about Mindful Art Club(R), a unique support group, that tackles social isolation and mental health in Plymouth, Devon.

Skip to 11 minutes in to hear Emma read a poem that explains how to stop, breathe and walk slowly into the mystery.

Skip to 12:35 where Chi asks, what if I’ve got kids at home? Can I still join in with the online group?

Join Us On Zoom!

Every Tuesday at 10am we host a supportive online meeting offering creativity, company and social connection: A short mindful meditation and an easy art project.

There is no art experience required, it’s friendly and informal. Just grab a coffee and join in.

Connect with others, share your experiences of COVID-19, and discover new ways of practising self-care through easy art and mindfulness exercises. Practice being here in the present moment, and accept where you are right now, without self-judgement.

We start with a brief chat about how everyone is feeling, then a short guided mindfulness session, followed by a simple art activity that anyone can do. Our mission is to make mindfulness more fun! We’re not teaching art techniques, we’re just here to play.

You will just need any pen, felt tips, some plain paper and a cup of tea or coffee.

You will also need to download Zoom, free video-conferencing software, to your computer, tablet or smart phone, before Tuesday. https://zoom.us

IMPORTANT: You will need to book your place in advance to receive the private link to the zoom meeting.

Book your place in advance for next Tuesday.

Like and follow us, and select notifications at www.facebook.com/mindfulartclub for updates about more free and low-cost events.

She Avoided Her Craft Room: This is Why

This is a guest post, republished with kind permission from a member of Mindful Art Club.

My Craft Room

Whilst in therapy I discovered the value, joy and fun that comes with crafting. I’m good at some crafts and a complete novice at others, but I wanted to try everything!

I used to be scared of trying new things. I was terrified of failing, but not now, (another benefit of counselling!) I try new crafts and enjoy the process, even if the end result isn’t quite what I had in mind.

I’m crafting for fun, relaxation, sense of achievement and for the physiotherapy it gives to some of my aching joints.

I wanted a space to craft… and only for crafting!

So, I turned my spare bedroom into my craft room. A large table, a smaller table, a storage unit and lots and lots of boxes to contain my stash; yarn, fabric, kits, paints, pencils and books. The list goes on. I have lamps, an ironing board and the most comfortable bed to rest on when tired. I was really pleased with how it turned out. I loved it.

But I didn’t use it. I would look in. I would go in and rearrange things, but I didn’t use it.

What happens when you finally get what you’ve wanted? I felt scared of the new possibilities open to me. I felt I didn’t deserve it. So I made excuses as to why I wasn’t using it.

Then came three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I had no plans. Nobody wanted or needed me, and I had no spare money to take myself out. So I was brave, and gave myself permission to go in and use my room.

In those three days I learnt that I did deserve the wonder that is my craft room. I was free to let my inner girl out to play. Ribbons, buttons, bows, fabric, coloured pencils, paints and glitter. It all came out! We played and we crafted, my inner child and me.

My craft room is now my physical safe space. In my room I work hard on complicated projects and I chill out colouring in children’s and adults colouring books. I have a go at crafts new to me and don’t worry about the result – well, not too much! I have some success and some not so successful, and I keep them all. They mark another stage in my journey. I’ve discovered I can try and fail, and my world doesn’t end.

It is a safe place for me to be me, and for me to have a go at life.

Shona.

One-Off Art Club in Torpoint

The Mindful Art Club are heading to Awenek Studio to host one of our art for wellbeing sessions. This event is free, and there are two parts to the session with options to bring your own packed lunch or just come to the morning or afternoon. Please get in touch with awenekstudio@gmail.com
or text 07931457386 to confirm your space.

THURSDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER 2020 FROM 10:30-14:00


They have an indoor outdoor socially distanced space but are keeping numbers to five participants morning/afternoon. The Studio is based at Maker Heights, a beautiful and picturesque hilltop location that serves the communities of Millbrook, Kingsand, Cawsand and Cremyll. 

Awenek Studio CIC is a hub for all those artistic people or anyone who wants to have a go at the joy of being creative together.

More info on Facebook: Mindful Art Club at Awenek Studio.

How to Reduce Stress and Increase Confidence

Want to improve your mental health, make new social connections and learn some fun new ways to cope with stress?

It could be time to try Mindful Art Club!

Some of the issues being tackled in our community mindful art groups are social isolation and poor mental health. We address these problems by using creative activities to make it easier for clients to engage in meaningful conversations. Often when depressed or anxious people are put in a position where they have to talk about how they feel, it’s the last thing that they want to do. In our art groups they have a place where there is something slow and steady to do, and there is no pressure to talk about anything. We find in our groups that as people begin to trust each other, they open up about how they feel and get support and identification from the rest of the group.

Two of the most common mental health issues are anxiety and depression. Research shows that the activities of mindfulness and art can be more effective than antidepressants and counselling. Author of ‘Lost Connections’, Johann Hari, believes that to help people change their lives they have to have a connection with other people, to find meaning and purpose.

Being in a supportive group builds up self-esteem and confidence. We do a different art project each week, and trying new activities has been proven to be good for our wellbeing and emotions, (in a survey by BBC Arts 2018). The same survey said that nothing beats taking part in art classes that involve face to face social interaction for people’s mental health.

So, our community groups give people the opportunity to share their feelings, practice mindfulness, create art, relax and chat. Mindful art club:

  • 1) Improves mental health
  • 2) Improves social connection
  • 3) Teaches new skills.

Try mindful art club for free by checking out our online group.

How Art Can Help You Cope

Even a small amount of creativity can help you to cope with modern life, according to recent research by BBC Arts and UCL. In the largest study of its kind, with almost 50,000 people taking part, the research explored for the first time how creative activities can help us manage our mood and boost wellbeing. (Creativity Can Help You Cope – BBC, accessed 10/08/20)

The Evidence

A Health Evidence Network (HEN) synthesis report on arts and health references over 900 publications, including 200 reviews, covering over 3000 further studies.

Arts interventions, such as singing in a choir to improve chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are considered non-invasive, low-risk treatment options and are increasingly being used by Member States to supplement more traditional biomedical treatments.

The Health Evidence Network synthesis report

What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being?

In July 2017 the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing published a report of their two-year inquiry into the role of the arts in health and wellbeing.

It found that the arts can keep us well, help us recover, and help to meet some of the major challenges currently facing health and social care. Therefore the arts can help to save money in the health service and social care services. You can read the short report here:

Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing

But How Do We Know That Mindful Art Club Works?

People who come to Mindful Art Club feel more supported, experience empathy, feel mentally calmer and more peaceful; they make new social connections and feel happier and more confident. They also learn to use mindfulness as a self-help tool, and learn to use art as a self-care activity.

We know these things because we get verbal feedback during the “check out” at the end of each session, and occasionally we ask our clients to complete written feedback forms. These simple questionnaires measure the client’s perception of their difficulties, including mental health, physical health, loneliness, self-esteem, and experience of art and mindfulness. We also gather some qualitative evidence, in the form of individual case studies.

Find out more by coming to an online group, or a community group in Plymouth. The online groups are free.