For ARA’s Syrian Women’s Group an art therapy session was a chance to try new ways to address the trauma and mental health concerns they continue to face. From creating a new artwork, to finding artworks that helped participants express their own feelings, the session was a time of individual expression and shared experiences.
By helping to process feelings and reduce stress and anxiety, art can play an invaluable role in self-care for mental health. Coming together at an art therapy session also allows participants to socialise with other people who have similar experiences. For the Syrian Women’s Group, the session was an opportunity to express inner feelings with a trusted network.
The Syrian Women’s Group meets monthly at the Salisbury Primary School Community Hub, facilitated by one of ARA’s Arabic speaking bicultural case workers. The art therapy session was part of the Australian Refugees and New Arrivals Project (ARANAP) which is funded by the APHN and run jointly by ARA and STTARS. The ARANAP project aims to provide integrated support, improved access to primary health care services, improved provision of primary health care, health literacy and education support.
As well as addressing mental health, the session addressed the settlement goals of family and social support as well as civic participation by building social support and connections. Future sessions will explore strategies to improve and maintain good mental health, including the role of physical exercise and time spent in nature.