AN innovative art therapy is harnessing the natural beauty of Snowdonia to help people with complex mental health problems

The programme is run by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board and uses the natural environment of the Snowdonia National Park.

Regular art therapy sessions are being held in the grounds of Moel y Ci Farm, in the foothills of Snowdonia, and have been credited with lifting the mood, improving clarity of thought and helping people interact with others.

Based on the principles of Environmental Arts Therapy, the bi-weekly sessions help service users reconnect with the natural world by encouraging a therapeutic use of natural materials, locations, themes and changes in the seasons.

The programme was nominated for an award at the recent Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board Achievement Awards for embracing ‘new ways of working’ and forms part of the health board’s ongoing efforts to improve mental health support in the community.

The therapy has been designed and delivered by Pamela Stanley, a senior art psychotherapist at BCUHB.

She said: “At the heart of environmental arts therapy is the relationship between the natural world and the feeling of self. Exploring the symbols, metaphors and narratives within the landscape, the elements and earth’s natural resource is enriching spiritually and emotionally.

“There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the value of eco therapy, eco psychology and environmental arts therapy.

“The sessions give service users an opportunity to explore difficulties with other people who have similar problems and this provides a stepping stone towards improved engagement with friends and family.”

The programme was introduced at Moel y Ci Farm after evaluation of a pilot scheme.

One service user said: “Being outside helped me think more clearly. It gave me time and space to take for myself without feeling guilty.”