The Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) is acknowledging the efforts of art therapists and directing mental-health patients to these creative specialists.
On Monday, the TRHA launched the service to benefit the mental health clients on the ward. This will be added to the current list of services, which include psychotherapy, occupational therapy and pharmacotherapy.
Art therapist at the unit Delisa Rollocks said art therapy is a form of psychotherapy used worldwide to improve one's mental and physical health.
In his welcome address, TRHA CEO Sheldon Cyrus said the new service was “ground-breaking for our institution.
"What we need to appreciate is over the years, the stigma of mental health has shifted, where we appreciate that this is an aspect of human life and can affect any one of us,” he said as he committed to providing the necessary support to the art therapist.
CEO Ingrid Melville noted that the services offered must evolve with the changing needs of the clients, and the change of times.
“Indeed, when you are in the business of service delivery, the services you offer must evolve in accordance with the changing needs of the clients and in accordance with the changing times.
“The dynamic of change is only constant in life. I hope that it will endure to the benefit of the clientele which we serve,” she said adding, “I can confidently say that this therapeutic and preventative mechanism which we are launching will definitely advance our service.”
The division’s secretary, Dr Agatha Carrington, noted: “Our organisation is seeking to improve mental health issues. This art therapy allows free expression, and this can facilitate remedial work for those who come to us for services.”
Art supplies were handed over to Rollocks, marking the start of the service.
Speaking following the launch. CEO Cyrus said that it is his "intention to have the TRHA on the cutting edge of technology and new initiatives.
"We see mental health as something where it is not a one size fits all approach, and part of what we wanted to do was to expand the service to include something that is not along the traditional medical line but something that is available in other parts of the world," he said.
Rollocks, speaking about the treatment, said art therapy promotes individual growth.
"It would increase patients' self esteem...The service is offered to persons who would have suffered any kind of trauma or distress, it doesn't necessary have to mean mental health but persons who would have suffered for example: post trauma stress disorder, anxiety, depression, persons who are suicidal or even persons who have relationship issues. As a non-verbal form of medication, patients/clients can use the sessions in a safe and facilitating environment," she said.
Rollocks, a former art teacher at the Bishops High School, said as a form teacher she was "doing a lot of counselling to my charges and I showed a lot of pastoral care to these children. At that point in time, a senior teacher, Mrs James-Stewart, she would have recommended that I get into art therapy."