Whilst mental health services are generally underfunded, the situation for Child and Adolescent Services is nothing less than desperate. This is particularly concerning because interventions that take place early in the life cycle can be life-changing, diverting vulnerable children from a lifetime of mental illness into pathways that lead to the fulfilment of their potential.
Developing early interventions is thus a critical step, not only in establishing cost-effective mental health services that are focussed on prevention but also in bringing about a healthier society. The idea of “psychiatric care” is however, hardly attractive to young people and revealing your inner self to a professional is never easy. Creative approaches to therapy are therefore critical for engaging young people in ways that are interesting and accessible.
Creative youth therapy
The Creative Youth Project has been developed at The Child and Adolescent Platform (CAP) at the Lentegeur psychiatric Hospital. The creative approach imbues a wide variety of enjoyable everyday youth activities including sports, hobbies, community organisations and the Creative Arts with therapies that focus on reconnection and recovery. These non-threatening and innovative therapies are designed to treat children and adolescents with a diversity of complex psychiatric and psychosocial disorders.
How it works:
Currently, The Youth therapy project is focusing on the power of music and dance. The creative arts therapy allows them the space to not speak, to not confront their trauma with words they may not understand or be able to find to explain themselves. They learn to find a place, an inner sanctum in a world of physical and verbal abuse. They are able to reconnect to their lives and heal from within.
Through the generous support of donors, facilitated by The Spring Foundation, we are able to employ part time music therapists who provide both individual and group sessions.
Internationally these therapies are gaining traction but in South Africa this is a ground- breaking project and its success story could have long reaching positive impact on other child care psychiatric units looking to increase success rates with healing their patients, as well as in the community.
How you can contribute to this project:
As this diverse range of therapies is not part of the existing mental health services currently available in Provincial services in the Western Cape, we need funding to enable this part-time therapy to become established as a permanent offering as part of the Life skills programme at Lentegeur. In addition, funding is essential to provide research to concretize the value of these programmes.
Future phases of this project will involve the establishment of an internship program for Arts Therapies at CAP in collaboration with international partners.
It will also allow the rolling out of more creative modalities, including not only the Arts Therapies but a range of similar interventions that reach out to young people in the community through the activities that they enjoy. The development of such preventative interventions, that will be offered in the community, play a vital role, not only in preventing mental illnesses but in building a healthier society for us all!
Your contribution enables the programme to continue, expand and help more young people step into a world or recovery and possibility.
Benefits – key statements:
• Assisting with emotional expression,
• Developing imagination and the capacity for play
• Building trust and the capacity to work collectively
• Enhancing verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
“ Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning but for children play is serious learning.”
“ Play is really the work of childhood.” Fred Rogers “ Making the connection to give people hope.”
Dr John Parker
The Lentegeur Spring Project from which the Spring Foundation has grown was selected as part of the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 program and the foundation’s greening project was adopted as a flagship by The Provincial Department of the Western Cape and the Premiers 110% Green Campaign.
The Spring Foundation at Lentegeur Hospital is a registered NPO and PBO that is using a range of psychosocial rehabilitation and outreach projects to re-establish a sense of hope and recovery through re-connection to the natural world and to community, identity and heritage.