High praise for youngsters’ art

Children from Park Community Academy and Mereside Youth Club have created artwork while exploring mental health - it is now being displayed in The Harbour mental health unit.''Children with Ashok Khandelwal, Jed Sullivan, Sue Currey and Dave Blacker
Children from Park Community Academy and Mereside Youth Club have created artwork while exploring mental health - it is now being displayed in The Harbour mental health unit.''Children with Ashok Khandelwal, Jed Sullivan, Sue Currey and Dave Blacker

Children from a Blackpool housing estate have created a “powerful” piece of work to be displayed in a mental health unit.

Young people from Blackpool Youth Club, based on Mereside, have learned about and explored mental health, its causes and effects, to create artworks and writing.

It demonstrates that these children are able to talk about and share things, good or bad, and have the ability to learn from their feelings

Now their work, compiled into a slideshow, is being played on television screens at The Harbour, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health unit on Preston New Road.

Pupils from Park Community Academy, a Blackpool school for children with learning difficulties, also added to the slideshow, having done mental health workshops with youth worker Dave Blacker.

The work has been praised by mental health bosses, saying that teaching children to be resilient and compassionate creates both stronger people and stronger communities.

Sue Currey, an occupational therapist at the The Harbour, said: “This work is really positive, and it’s very powerful.

“It demonstrates that these children are able to talk about and share things, good or bad, and have the ability to learn from their feelings.

“The ability to communicate problems, rather than bottling them up, is so important.

“The children have shared some very private and emotional things in their work. The support they have now will certainly help them in the future.

“It’s nice for both staff and patients in the unit to see that other people care about and think about mental health, these children do too.”

Children read about troubled star Marilyn Monroe and looked at paintings by famous artists to explore how anyone can be affected by mental health problems, how they can manifest themselves, and how best to cope with them.

Ashok Khandelwal, who has recently retired as the manager of primary care mental health services in the resort, said: “This work shows that given the right inspiration and leadership, children can help and support themselves, and social and economic deprivation doesn’t always lead to disasters.”

Youth worker Jed Sullivan, from Blackpool Youth Club, said: “Mental health is a ticking time bomb that’s been missed and under-resourced for decades and Blackpool is top of the tree for people developing mental health problems. Developing an understanding, resilience and compassion in young people is helping them not to development their own problems as well as creating more caring communities.”