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Artists share meaningful experiences at SAMH Creative Mindset Hub

This article is more than 12 months old

Event this weekend aims to show how art can impact mental well-being

Before Mr Tan Choon Heng was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 27, he would be cooped up at home for long periods of time.

He experienced a severe lack of motivation and felt he had no purpose in life.

Today, Mr Tan, 56, who is on regular medication, believes that his mental illness does not define his identity.

Although unemployed, he creates art and has sold about 20 pieces. He uses a technique known as pointillism, where small, individual dots of colour are drawn or painted to create patterns, highlights and shadows.

"My art gives me many things," he told The New Paper. "It gives me increased focus, it helps me regulate my emotions. It gives me a purpose in life."

Mr Tan is among several people with mental illnesses who will be helping to facilitate workshops as part of the Artmakings event, which is organised by the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) Creative Mindset Hub.

The event will be held at Festive Walk East @ Our Tampines Hub from noon to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Many have chosen to share their meaningful experiences with art with the public.

Some, including Mr Tan, will demonstrate how their illnesses have not got in the way of their achievements.

The event aims to demonstrate the impact that art can have on mental well-being while raising awareness on mental health.

Mr Tan will be conducting a pointillism workshop as he wants to share the calm and focus he experiences through art.


His medication gives him tremors in his hands and Ms Deborah Chen, deputy head of SAMH Creative Mindset Hub, told TNP he could not hold a cup of water without spilling it. But after practising pointillism for some time, Mr Tan discovered a significant reduction in the tremors and he was able to reduce the dosage of the medication.

Grace (not her real name), 29, is another client who is involved in the event. She suffers from schizophrenia and depression, and would often experience delusions and hear voices in her head.

"I didn't realise anything was wrong with me until I was diagnosed," she said.

And she found a community at the SAMH hub.

"SAMH helped me meet others like me," she said.

"With them, the staff and my case workers, I found many listening ears that I never had before."

Ms Chen said Grace experiences fewer hallucinations and delusions when she is at the SAMH centre.

Grace will be co-facilitating the workshop Art Loops, which seeks to bring people together by making loops of textiles and newspaper, which will then be assembled together in a community installation.

Other than its creative services, SAMH also conducts outreach and rehabilitation efforts to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses while promoting acceptance of and respect for them.