Art Center Opens Exhibit Created by People with Mental Illnesses

By: David Coy Email
By: David Coy Email

STAUNTON --Some people in the Valley are displaying their art but it's not the average exhibit. You maybe surprised to know that the masterpieces were created by people with mental illnesses.

"It's gonna dispel the stigma that mentally ill people can't do much and they are so different. It's gonna show that they are like other people," said occupational therapist Carol Sease.

"We feel that this group is really an under served group of artists. Differently an under recognized group of artists," said Executive Director of the Staunton-Augusta Art Center Beth Hodge.

The works are completed by people who are with Western State Hospital and people in the Staunton community. Some deal with severe depression,bi-polar disorder,schizophrenia and other illnesses.

"For these patients, it's a way for them to express some of their emotions they might have. It's a way for them to learn a coping strategy," said Sease.

Sease said working with her patients is a lot of fun. Especially when they surprise themselves by making great art.

"People who have mental illness are just as capable as some people who don't of doing good art," said Sease.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. It's on the second floor of the Staunton-Augusta art center. It's to celebrate mental health awareness month. It's closed June 1st. It's made possible by the Mental Health America of Augusta, Western State Hospital and a number of other organizations.

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