Arts-based interventions for youth with mental health challenges [2019]

Summary: We facilitated an arts-based mindfulness group program with youths who were receiving short-term in-patient mental health supports within hospital. We aimed to explore the challenges and benefits these marginalized youths experienced through their exposure to the group intervention. Forty pregroup and 24 postgroup interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis framework.

Findings: The qualitative findings are presented using creative nonfiction in the form of a composite vignette. The composite vignette portrays the content within the themes, creatively telling a more compelling story that illustrates key points and themes within the data set. The vignette shows how mental health challenges created problems in the youths’ lives. Although most of the youths were initially nervous about participating in the program, the strengths and arts-based nature of the program helped them to connect with others in the group and express themselves. All of the youths reported that the group program was enjoyable and beneficial. They learned to identify what they were feeling/thinking and to express these feelings/thoughts using creative means of expression. Making art helped them to develop their self-awareness and created enjoyment in the group and with the group methods. Also, learning about mindfulness helped them to think in different ways, and to focus and relax more.

Application: The results of this pilot project warrant further investigation into the benefits of creative strengths-based mindfulness-based interventions for in-patient youths experiencing mental health challenges. The composite vignette centers the youths’ voices and provides a comprehensive account of their experiences.

Diana Coholic, Robert Schinke, Odirin Oghene, Kelsey Dano, Mary Jago, Heather McAlister, Patricia Grynspan
Journal of Social Work, February 12, 2019