Tackling mental health issues through art

Izah Azahari

Local artists showcased their art works during a mental health awareness event at Avenue 41 in Kampong Kiarong.

Dubbed ‘Art works; Heartworks’, the event incorporates art and creativity and its effects on well-being.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin was present during the opening night on Friday.

Local creative community and representatives from the Occupational Therapy Department of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital were also present.

Workshops and talks were also held by Open Hearts and experts on topics including anxiety and depression which are prevalent issues in the younger generation today.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin listens to an explanation regarding the art works at the exhibition by lead organiser of the event and founder of OpenHearts Nadiah binti Suhaili. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

The event began with a welcoming speech by the lead organiser of the event and founder of OpenHearts Nadiah bitni Suhaili.

Nadiah is also a registered art therapist and has worked with people with various mental illnesses including trauma, depression, anxiety, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

She uses art in a therapeutic context to enhance the well-being of clients by helping them to express themselves and discover the psychological and emotional issues that are often difficult to articulate. Nadiah said that she worked with people of all ages and different experiences where art has helped them open up to their emotions and which also helped them physically.

“In Brunei, this is what we lack the most and the creative industry is what the youth and a lot of people really like so I hope that it’s one way to bridge people together,” said Nadiah.

With working experience in Australia and Brunei, Nadiah has found a big difference in both countries as people in Australia are more open about issues than those in Brunei. She called for more education as there are still many who think negatively towards mental health.

The three-day event, which ends tomorrow, is organised by OpenHearts and supported by The Creative Core BN. A series of workshops conducted by Nadiah and a counselling psychologist from Clarity Sdn Bhd Todd Mcpherson took place yesterday.

The workshops were curated for high school and sixth form students, as well as the public.

The exhibition is open from 10am to 5pm today.

The public can participate in interactive art experiences including Colouring in Mandala and Voice Your Opinion Wall, and view art works from local artists Karen Leong, Corina Yeo, Michelle Fung, Ira Ali, Aklil, Bazilah Suhaili, Maw, Mad Nycer, Wan Mayang and Nadiah.