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Creative Directions: Adam’s Story

Art sessions improved Adam's mental health and turned his life around

A person with short white hair and black glasses, wearing a grey t-shirt and purple apron sits at a table and shows a drawing of plants in a sketchbook at Creative Directions, our weekly art session for adults to improve mental health

Creative Directions is a programme of free, accessible and inspiring weekly arts sessions for adults looking to improve mental health and wellbeing. Participants come to Creative Directions through a range of pathways: some have been referred to the arts programme through social prescribers, having received professional support for diagnosed mental health conditions. For others, Creative Directions offers an antidote to loneliness and a way to escape day-to-day worries.

Adam’s darts story

Adam* started coming to Creative Directions in early 2023, having been referred to the programme by his wellbeing officer working with Doncaster Council. The officer spoke to Adam about art therapies as a means of improving mood and mental wellbeing. Prior to this, Adam felt content in life – he had a successful career and owned two properties, and he had a happy home life. However, things started to change of the worse, and he began experiencing feelings of extreme anger. This led to Adam being arrested multiple times, and things becoming increasingly difficult at home. He felt his life was being destroyed.

“Now, coming here, it has changed my mood. My family comment on it all the time.”

Adam told us that the more he came to Creative Directions, the calmer his mood and thoughts became. Being involved in something – in a community – and creating something new, helped him to find a place of wellbeing and ‘flow’ in his daily life.

What you do doesn’t have to be like a photograph… it doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s your own interpretation. That’s really good, because it caters for everyone’s ability.

Adam said that working with artists who are invested in the wellbeing and progress of participants creates a huge sense of wellbeing and value. By attending sessions with established artists, Creative Directions participants have the opportunity to develop specialist skills and connect with others through art. Rather than focusing on the challenges that brought him to sessions, Adam was able to focus on his new achievements week to week.

“I really love working with them. It’s not just anybody… you’re getting artists that are actually doing things. Who would have thought that you could be there with the percussionist for Beautiful South?!

For Adam, a really important aspect of Creative Directions was the inclusive, accepting atmosphere fostered within the group. He told us that everyone is accepted in each session, no matter the reason that brought them there. Participants can choose to speak about their challenges, and directly address their experiences, or simply join and connect with people through the shared enjoyment of art, using it as a way to relax and unwind.

It’s really important. I think it would change a lot of people’s outlook on life… I find it to be a process of transitioning and development. I’m transitioning, I’m rediscovering myself.

art sessions   art therapy   Arts & Health   case study   creative directions   impact   mental health

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