Building a Better Health Service


Art project in Monaghan promotes positive mental health in children

An innovative art project in Co. Monaghan has been helping primary school children to explore their mental health and create a positive environment to them to express and feel emotions.

The FRAME exhibition ‘Exploring emotions through art appreciation’ was attended by parents, children and young people, school principals and teachers and was launched by Monaghan GAA star Darren Hughes in the Garage Theatre, Monaghan, who highlighted the importance of getting young people to talk about their mental health.

“It’s getting the young people thinking. There’s a lot of talking and thinking about positive mental health at the moment and it’s engaging these children at an early age. They can bring it forward into adolescent and into later life and hopefully it will be an advantage to them,” said the Monaghan footballer.

The day of events included drama workshops, creative making table and pottery workshops.

Niamh O’Connor, Arts Co-ordinator, described the many emotions displayed on the art work and named themes underpinning happiness including nature, sunshine, friends and family.

“The children did really amazing art works about what makes them feel happy, all the emotions really. Their artwork represented sadness and frustration, joy, excitement and hope,” she said.

Nora McCabe, Master of Ceremonies on the day, described how important the expression of emotions and feelings are to keeping us well.

All of the objects made at the event form part of the on-going story of building positive mental health communities for young people and will be displayed in buildings on the St Davnet’s campus and in other public spaces.

“It has been a very positive and fantastic, creative and innovative way of working with children to display how mental health is important to them and how they can work with arts and drama to progress their mental health and manage their mental health,” explained Rosaline Keenan, Project Manager.

The event was organised by CHO1 Mental Health Services to display the art work from the World Within Walls Project ‘A History of St Davnet’s Hospital Monaghan’. The amazing and vivid array of art work was created by primary school children from schools in Cavan Monaghan: Knockconan NS, St Mary’s Boys NS, St Louis Girls NS and Darley NS; self-portraits and tile prints from transition year students from Colaiste Oiriall in Monaghan; and glass tiles and flowers developed at a community event by members of the public and those accessing mental health services in Cavan Monaghan.

Noreen Hennessy, arts and crafts therapist, explained that she was asked to create a drama element, exploring different emotions and how it feels. “We had lots of fun with the costumes but still reflecting back to which ones felt strong and which ones felt weak, which characters were you drawn to – the grumpy one or the quiet one, for example. It was very far-reaching,” said Noreen.