10 November 2022

With a bit of help from her support team, Sarah reconnects with her passions and shares her art.

Sarah holding up her framed art piece with Song Gao.

Everyone has their own unique story to tell, today, meet Sarah.

Sarah is a 37-year-old who lives with a mental health diagnosis. Four months ago, Sarah started her journey with Life Without Barriers’ Intensive Home Based Support Service (IHBSS), which uses tailored short-term support to help people manage a crisis, prevent relapse, and return to their usual living and work arrangements.

During the IHBSS Registration meeting, Sarah mentioned to Song Gao, her Community Rehabilitation Support Worker, that she liked art, but she didn’t know how to reconnect with this passion. Song could see that art and creativity were a strength of Sarah’s, and started to form a plan to help Sarah reconnect with art.

Song recalled that two years ago when she was undertaking her social work placement with Life Without Barriers’ Living Arts program, there was an exhibition called Mindshare, which features artists with lived experience of mental health challenges. Song shared the information about the 2022 exhibition with Sarah and encouraged her to get involved. Sarah said yes, and ‘Team Sarah’ was formed.

Image: Sarah and her Community Rehabilitation Support Worker, Song Gao.

Team Sarah included Sarah’s family members, her Care Coordinator, her support network, Sarah’s IHBSS team and staff from the Living Arts Program. The team collaborated to support Sarah’s participation in the 2022 Mindshare exhibition.

Due to a lifetime of trauma and unstable relationships, Sarah preferred to be on her own, where she didn’t need to rely on others. While preparing for the exhibition, Song worked with Sarah to build trust and a positive relationship. Song supported Sarah to make a step-by-step plan for the exhibition: visiting the art gallery to find spirit and inspiration, preparing and creating the artwork, and completing the expression of interest form to become a ‘feature artist’.

Through this process and Song’s support, Sarah was able to connect with the wider creative community, and she started to find her identity as an artist and reconnect with her passions.

Sarah working on her art pieces.

Sarah started looking forward to the Mindshare exhibition and was enjoying working on her art pieces, using fine liners and textas. Sarah shared with Song that when she concentrated on her art, it was like every negative thing went away, and she felt there was only art and peace at that moment.

Sarah was feeling positive about her recovery journey, and to reflect this, she gave one of her pieces the name ‘Towards Hope’.

Sarah holding up her framed art piece with Song Gao.

Sarah shared that all of her art pieces in the series were designed to encourage people to explore the world with courage when lost.

“I try to use the flower and mandala to bring the artwork together for a calming effect. This is also a therapeutic approach like piecing a puzzle together; everyone joining this journey could be perfect,” Sarah explained.

Flatlay of Sarah's four art pieces in frames.

Sarah and her support team attended the opening of the Mindshare exhibition together. Her artworks were displayed as a ‘Feature Artist’ alongside the work of other artists with Lived Experience of Mental Health Challenges from across South Australia.

During the exhibition, Sarah also visited the other venues involved to view the artworks created by herself and other artists.

“By being a part of the Mindshare exhibition, I tried something I had not experienced before. It felt good to share the experience with family members, the artists and the audience in the community,” said Sarah.

Sarah standing in front of a wall of art, holding a bunch of flowers.

Sarah and her team were also thrilled to learn that Life Without Barriers' National Office purchased all four of Sarah’s artworks from the exhibition.

Sarah hopes her story encourages someone with mental health lived experience to get creative and share their story through art.

“Go for it, and you only get one chance and one life, why not try it,” said Sarah.

“Art has helped me to heal, and I hope my pieces encourage others to recover and keep a positive attitude towards life.”

Being involved in the Mindshare exhibition helped Sarah with her Mental Health journey, helping her connect with her passions, her support network and the larger community. Sarah now has the confidence to try more creative activities and is looking forward to being involved in the Mindshare exhibition again next year.

Sarah holding up a cardboard cut out. Text reads: Mindshare.

You can view Sarah’s artwork on the online Mindshare exhibition website.

A person's story is precious. We take storytelling seriously. Sometimes people are able to tell their own story, and we love that. We always make sure they give us their ok, and we will always honour the trust placed in us to bring their story forward.

Mental Health services

Life Without Barriers offers a number of mental health services in select communities across Australia

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