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How art therapy supported one woman’s mental health

Sybil Adelaja with artwork

"All of the paintings in the gallery were inspired by a particularly tough time of my life when I was a patient receiving care for my mental health issues.

“When I was feeling depressed or angry, rather than shout or scream, I would put my feelings into the canvases,” explains Sybil Adelaja, a former service user at Highgate Mental Health Centre – part of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

She added: “Painting provided an outlet for me and a breakthrough to normality. I felt an incredible sense of relief after painting."

All of the pictures, which are now on display in 'The Gallery' at Highgate Mental Health Centre, were painted from July 2017 onwards. They were created by Sybil in collaboration with Laura Harrison, an Occupational Therapy Clinical Support Worker and Hannah Ravenscroft, an Art Therapist. While in hospital, Sybil worked with the Occupational Therapy team, attending weekly art therapy groups both in hospital and with groups outside the ward.

Laura said: “We’re thrilled to be exhibiting Sybil’s beautiful artwork at the hospital. Since leaving hospital, art has continued to be an important outlet for Sybil. We kept in touch and worked on creating this exhibition.”

Hannah said: “Art can have the power to heal, providing an outlet to help process and explore difficult experiences, and it can give a voice to thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to express through words.”

Sybil was keen for her paintings to be exhibited in the hospital where they could give hope to others. She said: “Looking at these paintings now, I can feel a sense of time passing and that difficult time in my life being over.

“Through this exhibition, I hope to inspire others to paint and encourage them to exhibit their paintings and get the attention they deserve."

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