Youth Mental Health Art Exhibition

Bnq2EROIcAARWA3An Art Exhibition themed around how to look after your mental health took place on Thursday 15th May 11am – 1pm at the Playhouse in Derry. The event was a good opportunity to celebrate the continuing success of the Salus Project which has been promoting the emotional well-being of young people (aged 12–25 years) through training in counties Derry, Donegal, Cavan and Fermanagh since September 2013.

Salus, which means ‘well-being’ in Latin, is funded through the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme and is a joint initiative between Action Mental Health and National Learning Network. The project is going from strength to strength, having delivered workshops to almost 3,000 young people since it started.

Michaela McDaid, one of two Salus Information Officers, said;

“Having delivered mental health training in the Western Trust for many years, it’s exciting to engage young people throughout Derry and Donegal. I’m finding a huge interest in both counties. Young people increasingly recognise the importance of looking after their mental health and understand that awareness and education will help them to identify coping strategies and build resilience.”

The cross-border Art Project engaged participants from schools and youth centres in each of the four counties. The students produced pieces of artwork under each of the pillars of emotional well-being namely; be active, stop and notice the world around you, challenge yourself, do things for others and stay connected.

Bnqr-GlCMAAYtqeThe artwork created took the form of sculpture, video, canvasses and even a piece of high fashion and was supported by Omagh artist Geraldine O’Reilly. Siobhan Wallace, Salus Co-ordinator, explained;

“It was a very interesting process for us to explore with young people, through a variety of mediums, the ways to maintain good mental health. Creating the artwork enabled young people to talk freely and openly about mental health issues as well as learning that mental health isn’t outside your control but something you can influence by the way you live. The art project fits very much with the ethos of Salus which is about positive mental health.”

Over 120 people attended the event. The keynote speaker, Psychologist Shane Martin from Monaghan, kept the audience entertained and interested with his wide range of stories and anecdotes on how to stay positive. Laughter Yoga with Michelle Major ensured the audience were all in a relaxed and positive mood.

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