Feature: Arts Umbrella’s New Arts Program Helps Young Mental Health Patients

Approximately 84,000 of BC’s children and youth (between the ages of 4 to 17) experience clinically significant mental disorders, resulting in more than 16,000 visits to BC Children’s Hospital to date – and the numbers are continuing to grow year over year.

In an effort to allow the young psychiatric patients of BC Children’s Hospital to explore their own unique strengths and interests, a Creative Arts program has been developed, thanks to a partnership between Arts Umbrella, BC Children’s Hospital, and generous donors David and Pamela Richardson.

Arts Umbrella Mental Health 2

Arts Umbrella and BC Children’s Hospital representatives with donors David and Pamela Richardson

For nearly 40 years, Arts Umbrella has been a go-to destination for dance, theatre and visual arts programming for children and youth, known for their talented instructors and unwavering commitment to the community. Through this new program, Arts Umbrella is able to make an impact on the lives of children who are experiencing severe mental health disorders, by providing the right tools and support to allow patients to explore their artistic voices.

Arts Umbrella Mental Health

Unlike Arts Umbrella’s more structured arts classes, this program allows children and youth to relax and enjoy creative freedom as they sketch, paint or model clay in a safe and nurturing environment that caters to their specific needs.

“We are grateful to Arts Umbrella for helping us bring awareness to the benefits of art, and supporting patients to discover novel ways of expressing complex feelings and emotions,” shared Sarah Bell, interim CEO at BC Children’s Hospital.

The pilot project initially launched in January 2017, and has been confirmed to run for at least two more years, with an estimated reach of 220 children and youth each year.

To learn more about BC Children’s mental health services and programs, please visit bcchildrens.ca.

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