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South London Gallery

Visual arts programme – early intervention to improve mental wellbeing for parents and their children

What we do

Creative Families was a two-year pilot programme starting in 2013 that developed a partnership between the South London Gallery, the South London and Maudsley Parental Mental Health Team and Southwark Children’s Centres to deliver programmes for parents experiencing mental health difficulties, and their children under five. This group is often marginalised and finds universal services inaccessible. Creative Families creates a non-stigmatising environment that parents feel able to access safely.

Artists led projects exploring for example parenting, motherhood, collaborative making, skill-sharing and typography, hosted at children’s centres and in the gallery’s studio space. Each of the six programmes ran weekly during school term-times.

Between six and 12 families attended each session. Qualitative and quantitative evaluations of the programme by Alison Rooke, Director of the Centre for Urban and Community Research, and Carrie-Ann Black, of the Centre for Parent and Child Support, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust found that parents’ levels of perceived depression, anxiety and stress decreased, and self-efficacy improved. They grew in confidence and felt less isolated. Creative Families is creating a toolkit for others to replicate.

The Creative Families programme has helped to break down the stigma of accessing mental health services as a parent and provided parents with an opportunity to have fun with their children at often difficult times in their lives.

Lucy Brazener, Mental Health Nurse, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Special offers

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