SINGAPORE - The increase in the numbers of people seeking help for mental health issues has prompted the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to start an initiative that provides therapy through art.
The Creative Mindset Hub which officially opened on Saturday (Dec 1) at Our Tampines Hub uses workshops such as storytelling and watercolour painting to promote mental well-being.
The World Health Organisation reported in October that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
Global studies have described the positive impact of the arts on mental well-being. And a growing body of evidence suggests that engaging in the visual arts for adults with mental health conditions can reduce depression and anxiety, increase self-respect and encourage re-engagement with the wider world.
Creative Mindset Hub, which actually began operations in June, joins public service agencies at Our Tampines Hub to provide the art therapy. Its partners include the People's Association and Tampines GRC Community Arts and Culture Clubs.
Anyone can sign up for the services, with prices ranging from free to $80 a session.
Art coordinator Dorothy Lim, who helps run the workshops, said the sessions use art as a form of expression and as a tool to reduce stigmatisation.
"It is open to anyone from all walks of life. The main purpose is to create a group where people from all walks of life can come together to create art," she noted.
"Art becomes a common topic that runs throughout the session. It does not matter what illness you have."
President Halimah Yacob told Saturday's opening ceremony how important it is to have the community working together to help others overcome mental health conditions and the stigma surrounding them.
"In recent years, Singapore has made progress in lifting the stigma of mental health conditions and strengthening preventive and rehabilitative mental healthcare for all," she said.
"The Hub aims to be a key part of our holistic healthcare system, and bring quality mental health care closer to the community.
"As arts and heritage have the power to connect communities and strengthen social bonds, they also have great potential to break down the barriers of stigma and lead to a profound impact on our mental well-being."
Madam Halimah also noted that the focal area for President's Challenge 2019 will be on mental health given afflictions in this area are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
SAMH opened a mental health hub in Marsiling in 2017 that offers sports, outdoor and art activities to promote mental health among young people.
Association president Francis Yeoh said: "In addition to giving an avenue for expression, art therapy enables individuals to use their imagination to create new worlds as well as illustrate new interpretations of the world around them."
Madam Halimah also visited Our SG Hawker Culture, a travelling exhibition at Our Tampines Hub, to pledge her support to nominate Singapore's hawker culture for Unesco's intangible cultural heritage list.