A new gallery featuring artwork by service users struggling with their mental health has been unveiled at Cygnet Hospital Woking.

A previously blank space at the hospital on Redding Way has been filled with vibrant drawings and paintings to add some colour to the hospital walls.

Courtney Greene, regional lead occupational therapist at Cygnet Health Care, said: “Collaborating with patients, art psychotherapists, activity co-ordinators and doctors during groups and in our recovery college, we’ve infused creativity into our daily practice at Cygnet Woking.

“Recognising the profound impact of art on mental health, this project emphasises the healing power of shared expression. 

“I am so grateful for the teamwork that brought this vision to life.”

The emphasis was on self-expression and self-reflection, and an art psychotherapy student was on site to run individual and group sessions with service users.

Courtney said: “Art and the exploration of our creativity can be a powerful mindfulness tool that helps people relax and unwind, process our emotions and manage mental-health conditions such as anxiety, trauma and depression.

“Experiences such as trauma are very difficult to articulate, so therapies that can support and connect patients with non-verbal expression are really the foundation of the creative-arts therapies.

“Painting can be used as a restorative experience, not just an enjoyable one. 

“We can focus on using our blank canvas as an outlet to explore personal experiences and express our inner emotions that we may find challenging to speak about or put into words.

“It also allows us to realise and feel gratitude for the things that we have in our lives.

“Exploring elements of nature, our favourite animal or our family can help us to reconnect to those things that are most important to us and bring us joy at our most fundamental level.”

Feedback from service users has been overwhelmingly positive.

Comments from service users include:

“There is no pressure in the art group, I get to express myself however I choose.”

“I like being able to choose what art to do, painting, drawing or even using clay.”

“I find it difficult to talk about what’s happening in my head, but I can draw it for my doctors.”

“Art keeps me busy so I don’t think about my problems all the time.”