In 2012, Artspeaks was formed with the sole intention of acting as a charity service provider to support the work of UK registered art therapy charities by providing them with art stationary items.
Unlike the workings of other non-profit organisations, the manner in which Artspeaks operates is unique in that its primary objective is to outsource stationary items to charities that use art based items in the delivery of their work. With the recent gradual yet steady cuts being made to vital organisations serving a much needed role in the treatment of various issues mental health issues through psychosocial intervention measures – in this case being art therapy – our service is becoming ever more necessary to help meet the demand of charities who are experiencing the burden of prioritising limited resources.
Having taught as a Primary school teacher for many years, I was fortunate enough to witness first hand the impact of activities which promoted art expression through the use of 2D and 3D mediums; particularly with children exhibiting social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Compared to activities that enable art expression to take place, the nature of art therapy is much more than this. Led by a qualified and registered Art Therapist, (and other creative art specialists if necessary) individuals are assessed psychologically and emotionally with a comprehensive treatment plan in place. In addition, art therapists provide a crucial role in helping individuals reflect who they are, their thoughts and feelings through the simple process of interpretation from art based work they have produced.
Psychotherapy of this nature can bring about much benefit to those for whom spoken language can pose a challenge to convey thoughts. Words are not necessary and immediately breaks down any barriers an individual may face when they simply cannot verbalise or do not have the bank of vocabulary required to express themselves – the art work does the speaking for them – this process in itself can be incredibly empowering.
In the UK alone, there has been a steady rise in the use of art therapy to help children, young people and adults manage a plethora of issues ranging from emotional, behavioural, mental health problems, learning or physical difficulties, life limiting conditions, brain injury or neurological conditions and physical illness. Globally, its impact is well documented and its uses successfully implemented in countries impacted by natural disasters or those experiencing conflict and war.
With poverty, warfare and conflict becoming more prevalent in societies worldwide individuals of all ages are exposed to adversity and trauma with some estimates suggesting that about a third of the general population may be affected. More worryingly, evidence also leads on to suggest that adverse experiences in childhood – bullying, physical abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect and occasionally the death of a parent – are associated with psychosis.
Post traumatic Stress Disorder also referred to as PTSD, is a symptom commonly associated with individuals who have faced such prolonged experiences. Without adequate support and most crucially, early intervention, the long-term implications can be detrimental to the mental health of many and can pose further negative consequences to the individual and the community as a whole such as higher criminality rates, lower attainment in education and negative general health and well-being.
We at Artspeaks believe that we can make a small yet positive difference by supporting art therapy charities to help them access free art resources to they can focus on the primary needs of their clients. The provision of art based items can further assist art therapists to fully set up or expand pre-existing art therapy services, offering clients a choice in the type of therapeutic support they receive and/or enabling them to increase their audience and service users. Since trauma, bereavement and tragedy are not always easy to talk about; creative art expression provides the freedom to communicate difficult experiences, which cannot always be achieved through words and empowers individuals to find positive ways of coping.
Samia Quddus, Founder of Artspeaks. This blog was written from a personal perspective and does not necessarily reflect the view of the organisation.