The sun was out on my way to Hamilton Town House, a venue hosting a series of creative arts workshops as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

These hands-on events were organised in partnership with South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture. Arts Development Officer Jane McCann said:

“Art can help improve mental health by reducing stress, encouraging creative thinking, increasing brain plasticity, and providing opportunities for self-expression.  It can be a form of therapy for people with mental health issues or people struggling with their mental health.

Whether creating art or participating in a drama session it can have calming effects and help people escape from everyday problems and get in a zone of creativity, flow, and healthy self-expression.“

Drama Therapy

I attended an interesting drama class that consisted of short movement, improvisation, voice exercises and games.

We also read a short play with different roles aloud, and then tried acting by actually becoming the characters and creating a scene from the play. The participants had to go on an imaginary stage and perform. This helped them with learning teamwork and collaboration.

Everyone was very engaged and it was fun to get a glimpse of what professional actors need to do. It was also great for memory and confidence building, as well as learning to use our voices and body language.

Plastic chairs set out in a semi circle in a dance studio.
Drama Therapy (c. Antje Bothin)
Colourful silk scarves on a studio floor,.
Young at Heart Dance (c. Antje Bothin)

Young at Heart Dance

I also went to an amazing dance workshop, which was offered as part of Young at Heart. It was a lively hour – as they say, time flies when you are having fun.

We had upbeat music and intriguing props, the perfect recipe for some happy vibes. First, we used colourful cloths and let them dance in the air. Then we changed to glittery pom-poms and created a fantastic performance for Omi’s famous song ‘Cheerleader’. We finished with Tom Jones and had ribbons that made ‘Delilah’ come to life. It was good exercise that will help you to keep active and fit. I think everyone enjoyed this session, I certainly did.

Dr Antje Bothin is a Talking Heads volunteer living in Lanarkshire. She has authored an inspiring book on a treasure hunt around Iceland featuring a character with selective mutism. When not writing, she can be found volunteering in nature or drinking tea. Read more of her work on her blog.

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