Art Therapy Helps Western State Patients Cope With Mental Health

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

Thousands of people are diagnosed with depression every year, but patients at Western State Hospital have learned how art can help them cope with those symptoms.

James Gibson said he's battling depression and has been at Western State for the past two years.

He's part of an art therapy class that helps him learn how to cope with depression.

"When I'm in art class, I'm so relaxed," Gibson said. "I don't think about any of the hardships."

He's built on his art skills under the guidance of Carole Seese, an occupational therapist at Western State.

Seese said she encourages her students to be creative, to problem-solve and to incorporate mistakes into their art when they come to art class.

"Most of my people do really well," Seese said. "You can see it. You say, oh my gosh, you got that, oh look, you're seeing that. It's wonderful. They're very proud; it really helps self-esteem."

Gibson's art helps him to cope and to see life with a different perspective.

"It's nice to get things finished, and I feel self-satisfied when the landscapes, when everything's put into place."

His art focuses on pencil-drawn landscapes and watercolors.

Gibson's inspired by his time as a volunteer firefighter and growing up in Winchester.

Gibson plans on working on his art after he leaves Western State later this year.

"If I didn't have the art, I don't know what I would do," Gibson said. "The hospital would drive me crazy if I was sitting around and had nothing to do at all."


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