In an article I read recently - that really resonated with me - it highlighted how people can learn to be resilient, its not just a skill we are lucky to be born with. “Resilience is, ultimately, a set of skills that can be taught" (Konnikova, 2016). Mental health is an issue that not many people know how to deal with sufficiently. “70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age" (Mental Health Foundation). With it being such a large problem, and the implications of it leading into adult life causing more issues, can we try to assist some children using creative measures? “Many adults reporting mental ill health dated their initial distress to childhood difficulties" (J Campion, D Bhugra, S Bailey, M Marmot, 2013). So how can we prevent childhood issues progressing into adult life? Can dealing with issues, and teaching methods of coping and resilience in childhood make adult life more fruitful? It is evident that “Deeply damaging events engender a powerful compulsion to repeat them" (Kramer, 1973).
“Art is an exercise which allows children to assert themselves and their boundaries. Rabin explained that such therapy significantly decreases acute stress symptoms, noting that the purpose of trauma treatment is to help children find a way to cope.” (California School of Professional Psychology, 2012)
This suggests that art allows children to express themselves, by asserting their ‘voice’ and in doing this it helps them to cope - hence decreasing stress symptoms. Brian McCarty is a contemporary artist and a photographer known for his work with toys. He currently has a project called ‘War Toys’. McCarty works with children that are currently living in zones that have been affected by war and conflict. Using expressive therapy the children draw their accounts of the conflict, with the help of an art therapist. McCarty uses these drawings to recreate the images, using toys as replacements for objects and people in the images. The toys are locally found, and shot in the location the children are currently living. The project helps children express themselves, gives them a voice, but also helps them to cope with the traumas and upset they have experienced. I think the project is a positive and supportive measure, helping empower the children, also bringing awareness of these traumas that they have suffered. It also reveals their personal interpretation of these events. The photographs McCarty takes are strong with meaning, but the toys break down the intensity of the subject without losing the strong message. There are several images in his series, the toys being shot in the location adding extra impact to each image.