A new project will use the arts to improve emotional health for men in Torbay.
The project is a collaboration between Torbay Culture Board and Public Health Torbay. Printmaker Simon Ripley and film maker Josh Gaunt will work with groups of men creatively to develop their own stories about their lives. As well as providing an artistic focus for the men taking part, the workshops aim to create an environment in which men find it easier to talk about emotional and health issues.
Simon Ripley said:
“Meeting with other men, being creative, talking and sharing, all contribute to emotional wellbeing. Creativity can help people develop their confidence, self awareness and self esteem. With this project, we aim to create a safe space for men to not only make art but to also build friendships.”
Executive Director for Torbay Culture Board Kate Farmery said:
“There is evidence to demonstrate the benefits of creativity in improving emotional wellbeing. This is a pilot project which we’re creating specially for men in Torbay and which we’ll be evaluating to determine its effectiveness. If we see that this innovative approach is starting to have an effect – and I believe we will – we’ll be looking at ways to introduce more projects like this.”
One impetus for the project was Torbay’s male suicide rate, which is higher than the national average. The project aims to raise awareness of the stigma around talking about emotional health issues and suicide, while providing a creative outlet to develop emotionally healthy choices.
Public Health Torbay Principal Gerry Cadogan said:
“Despite the best efforts of GPs, mental health and other services, we haven’t been able to reduce the suicide rate in Torbay. The majority of people, particularly men, who take their own life have never used mental health services and may not have talked to their GP – or to anyone else – about their problems. We have to look at alternative methods, and this project is an innovative and creative way of tackling the problem. As well as benefiting those men taking part, the outcomes will also have a positive impact on families, friends and communities, and ultimately, Torbay.”
Cllr Derek Mills, Deputy Mayor and Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing and Corporate Services said:
“This is a new direction for us in Torbay. I believe that creativity will help us to tackle this issue. Creativity can be very powerful; it helps people to feel fulfilled and more alive. These creative workshops will also offer an opportunity for men to come together, to chat and to feel part of something.”
The project is funded by Arts Council England with support from Public Health Torbay.
Workshops will begin in April. For more information about how to get involved in the project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.