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Peel Weekly News: Mental health conference provides hope for “ArtsCare”

Published in Peel Weekly News on October 28, 2021

“This movement brings the healing powers of creatives experience into health care practice,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in her welcoming conference address during the Mississauga Arts Council’s (MAC) inaugural ArtsCare conference. “It is my hope that by connecting health and social services agencies with creative groups that we can foster creative experiences that are accessible to those who will benefit from them most.”

MAC and Mass Culture/ Mobilisation culturelle (MC) brought together health practitioners, academics, artists, politicians, and leaders in the arts sector at the first Arts for Mental Health Conference in Canada on Oct. 6, 2021.

130 Participants gathered in a successful conference to brainstorm and explore the rationale for, design and implementation of a pilot program that will deliver and expand arts programs to people living with mental health issues in Mississauga.

“Through its network, (MAC) has the foundation needed to bring research into action, co-creating a strategy(ies) that seamlessly brins the arts and health sector together to incite positive social change,” says Robin Sokoloski, Mass Culture’s director of organizational development.

“Mass Culture feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to support MAC in advancing ArtsCare.”

The arts were woven into the conference by Tanya Neumeyer, a professional poet who recapped the conversation with two powerful spoken word performances.

MAC’s annual Arts for Mental Health Award was awarded to Susan Ksiezopolski for her active work in her community, creating and sharing experiences that fuel a sense of well-being and support mental health through arts-based programs.

In addition to her well-being workshops, she produced the Art of Wellness Documentary (2021), highlighting the health benefits of existing arts-based programs in Peel Region.

“Oh my heart, I am speechless, honoured, and humbled. Thank you to MAC for your support and everything you do for artists and to Bell for all the funding they provide to this important initiative,” said Ksiezopolski. “Let’s make this better, everyone deserves access to these programs, they are life changing and transformative.”

The conference is just the beginning of the ArtsCare movement, said Mike Douglas, MAC’s executive director.

“The evidence is there, the benefits of creative experiences on mental health are life changing and integrating an arts social prescription program in Peel Region will help residents, especially in a time where COVID-19 has created such a demand for mental health care.”

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Susan Ksiezopolski recieves the Arts for Mental Health Award: