We are delighted to welcome Art Therapist Beverley Graham to Teesdale Counselling Service at the end of September 2015. Please contact us for further information.
If you should meet a group of people walking in Teesdale who are oddly silent, don’t assume they have fallen out or that they are very antisocial. They may be members of the dale’s mindfulness walking group.
Research shows that walking is not only good for your physical health, but it is also good for your mental health. Mindfulness is living in the moment; paying attention in a particular way, on purpose and non judgementally. The combination is a powerful restorative.
The group was set up by Colour Your Life and Jo Warren, above, of Teesdale Counselling Services and who leads the walks.
Two weeks into the first 10-week course she said the feedback was amazing.
Although an ancient Buddhist practice, it is not a religious thing. It is simply a practical way to notice in minute detail thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells-anything we might not normally notice such as the infinite variety of shades of green in Teesdale, the dewdrops on a cobweb, the sound of your own breathing.
The sessions start with a brief talk to outline the focus of the walk. It could be to take me to see, hear and smell. “Then we walk in silence,”says Jo. “This helps switch off the reminder that each wall and to feel what is in you.”
During the two hour session, the walkers are guided to stop, take stock and to share experiences of the walk. And there is usually a lot to talk about. “Walking this way makes you really notice what’s around you,” says Jo.
The walkers are also encouraged to collect an item during the walk and talk to the group about it in a fun version of show and tell.
Jo is keen to stress that you don’t need health problems to take part or to benefit from mindfulness. But, she added, it would be extremely beneficial for anyone suffering from anxiety, stress or depression. And, let’s face it, that’s most of us.
Jo is delighted that she has the backing of Colour Your Life which has been able to secure public health funding for the running of the group.
THE ART OF MENTAL HEALTH.
Budding artists at Teesdale School teamed up with Jo Warren from Teesdale Counselling Services to produce some artwork that reflects how they view mental health. Jo worked with two groups over a 4 week period alongside the expert artistic eye of Nicolette Hollindale, Head of Art at the school. The aim of the project was to raise awareness of the importance of emotional wellbeing and discuss how it may feel for someone who is struggling with mental health issues.
The work provided a great insight into how young people view mental health and helped to get them talking about simple everyday problems that can cause worries and also some more complex issues such as self-harm, grief and abuse; both groups depicted a dark side and a bright side in their interpretation.
“The artwork will take pride of place in my therapy rooms and there is a touching story behind it” said Jo. The pupils felt that people of all ages who view their paintings will see that they have a choice as to which path they take in their lives. The project also helped to spread the message that it is completely OK to seek help and to reduce the stigma that is so often attached to mental health matters.
The project was met with great enthusiasm from everyone who took part. Participation was voluntary and pupils gave up their lunch breaks to work on their masterpieces.
John Southeran, Teesdale School Co-Principal (Student Wellbeing) commented, ‘We are delighted with the superb results of these sessions, and would like to thank Jo for raising the issue of mental health through this medium.’
Pictured L-R: Ella Lee, Clara Dent, Holly Teward, Eve Buxton, Rachel Dent.
Pupils who also participated: Alice Lawson, Ellen Thompson, Eleanor Morris,
Francesca Connelly, Olivia Simpson, Amy Parratt.