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Beyond Words | Art Therapy and Mental Health

It is with great pleasure that the Penticton art Gallery is, for the sixth year, able to partner with the BC Schizophrenia Society to showcase the work created by a growing number of individuals who have been participating in their art therapy program. Art therapy encourages self-expression, self-discovery and emotional growth; for these reasons, it has been used in the treatment of mental illness for almost 100 years.

As a form of psychotherapy, art therapy involves both the creation of art and the discovery of its meaning. Individuals are encouraged to visualize, and then create, the thoughts and emotions that they cannot talk about. For other people with mental illness or disabilities, the creative process of art making becomes the therapy. During the 20th century, art therapy was popular as a form of milieu therapy at psychiatric institutions and was an important influence on the development of art therapy in the United States. Milieu therapies focus on putting the patient in a therapeutic social setting that provides opportunities to develop self confidence and interact with others in a positive way.

One in five Canadians will experience mental illness during their lifetime. A number of myths have led to misunderstandings about mental illness, preventing many people from seeking and getting help when they need it. With this in mind, please consider the following:

1)  Reach out. Don't be afraid to ask for help or to ask how you can help. This is a message for the family as well as for the

person who is suffering alone, and for anyone who knows someone in trouble.

2) Get help early. Early intervention and treatment reduce long term disability from mental illness.

3) Talk about it. Share your stories to help others understand.

4) Share the care. Treatment and support of people with mental illness involves many types of caregivers; each has an

important role to play.

5)  Hope. While there are no cures for severe mental illnesses, improved treatments and community supports offer increased hope for recovery from its symptoms and a better quality of life.

Finally please remember to respect differences. People with mental illnesses and their families are as diverse as the general population. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental illness often prevents sufferers from seeking the help they need, impairs recovery, affects the quality and availability of care and needed supports and even takes lives. Stigma also continues to keep mental health low on the health agenda. Mental illness knows no boundaries; it can affect all people, regardless of age, culture, income and education.

Thanks to Valerie Wood for her continued support of the partnership and to all the artists who have stepped forward and shared their art with our community, bearing their soul in an effort to break down the barriers and misunderstandings which surround mental health issues. In doing so, each of you has served as an inspiration for those living with mental health issues themselves or those who know a loved one who is in need of help. If you are in need of help, advice or support please contact the following resourcesavailable in our community:


Mental Wellness Centre

205 Martin Street

Penticton BC, V2A 5M2

Phone: (250) 493-7338



Canadian Mental Health    

2852 Skaha Lake Road

Penticton, BC, V2A 6G1     

Phone: (250) 493-8999



Penticton & Area Crisis Line


Toll Free: 1-800-784-2433