The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in Wales has three main activities
1. Direct delivery projects, e.g. we are currently training peer leaders in the refugee community to lead small supportive peer groups themselves.
2. Learning Partners, e.g. we have worked alongside a large Welsh county council to help them think through how their youth services are impacting the mental health of young people.
3. Policy and influence, e.g. we have undertaken an inequalities survey during Covid-19 lockdown on emotional wellbeing which has fed into the Welsh Government decisions
What are you aiming to achieve with the inaugural Green Ribbon Arts Festival?
I hope that the Green Ribbon Arts Festival will draw and support a strong network of creative artists and organisations who base their work in and around the mental health agenda. I hope that this festival will give space for artists to express their experiences of mental health. In turn, I hope that policy makers and stakeholders see the value of creative arts in the mental health agenda. I also hope that his fixture will become part of the Welsh annual landscape of festivals.
How do you feel the arts can explore and support people’s mental health in ways that other work can’t?
I think that the arts can voice emotional experiences and challenges in ways that words sometimes can’t. This can be therapeutic for the artist, but it can also bring understanding and healing for the audience.
How are you adapting to the challenges of holding an event during the Covid 19 crisis?
I recognise that this lockdown time for performing artists, and others, has hit this industry very hard. This has had a knock on effect on income and audience for the artists and venues. We hope that by adjusting some of our networking online, listening well to the needs of Welsh artists and organisations, and remaining hopeful that things will change (and perhaps with a silver lining?), small festival gatherings will be able to be held early next year.
Briefly sum up your own hopes for the festival and what you’d like to see people take from it.
Art has the ability to engage all the senses at once, often without words. I remember walking into an art shop in Pembrokeshire and was immediately drawn to a painting of a foxglove, standing proud, tall, pink with light darting all around it. It evoked memories in an instance. Tears flowed immediately because my mind went back to happy childhood walks with a father now gone, of times in the Spring when I am so thankful winter has passed and the joyful thankfulness for colour and light.
I hope that people can take away wordless experiences, which gives them hope, courage and inspiration.