Visible Voices Through the Looking Glass 

Exploring Depression with Seniors Through Expressive Arts Making

There were so many amazing stories and artwork from this program that this space will be home to all that was not featured in the Visible Voices Video –  – nevertheless deserve to be shared.

The Program

This was a two-part program exploring depression with seniors living in two long-term care homes, Highland Wood and Hyland Crest, Haliburton County, Ontario, Canada, through artwork and stories.  The program was funded through the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, part of the Bell Mental Health Initiative. International studies show significant improvements in those living with mental health issues when engaged in the creative process.

The intent was not to fix or interpret or judge. The one-on-one sessions were not art lessons or crafts or therapy. However the work was therapeutic. Participants were invited to use the art making materials for honest self expression.

Part One

Depression, Connection, Expression

  • Seniors participated in individualized expressive arts experiences over a period of seven months, beginning January 2012. The intermodal approach  included visual art, sculpture, storytelling/poetry, sound, movement, and fibre art.

David F&I1 DSCF1875

Part Two

Reflection, Dialogue, Insight 

  • Video and audio recordings of the seniors and their work was presented to community groups across the County. Audience members were invited to respond to what they saw and heard through the creation of their own artwork.  These pieces were shown to the seniors who took part in Visible Voices – Through the Looking Glass, thus completing the communication circle.

The intent of the program was to reduce the stigma associated with depression, raise awareness of how depression affects seniors, contribute to the growing body of evidence that supports the power of the creative process and improved mental health, and to have our community use art making to engage in meaningful conversations about depression.

The program video can be seen at:

Contact: Fay Wilkinson, Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator, Storyteller and Artist.