Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services

The Power of Creativity

Behavioral Health Patients Find Healing Through the Arts

Meris Yeaw writes poetry, practices yoga, draws, and takes in live guitar performances. They’re just some of the activities offered to her through Newport Hospital’s Healing Through Creative Arts program. With help from community volunteers, the program is designed to improve patients’ physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Meris Yeaw and Bethany Diedrich
Patient Meris Yeaw works on a creative project with Bethany Diedrich, a Newport Hospital recreation therapist.

“I’ve been in different hospitals in the state and outside the state and programs [like this], if they have any, are nothing like what is offered at Newport Hospital,” explains Yeaw. “I look forward to the groups. It’s personal; it’s interactive; it’s enjoyable.”

Valerie Seney, MSN, RN-BC, director of nursing for the behavioral health unit at Newport Hospital, says the program’s creative, therapeutic, and educational activities can dramatically enhance patients’ mental wellness. “Patients say they usually feel like they’re in a corner when it comes to social situations. After participating in the program, many say it’s the first time in years they feel okay,” says Seney.

Program developer Bethany Diedrich, a certified recreational therapist, researched the impact the program has had on patients. She found that 86 percent of program participants described their mood as positive and 98 percent reported a positive change in mood. Diedrich presented her research at the national conference for recreational therapists held in Chicago last fall.

Diedrich says she is thrilled to continue to add new activities to the program, as patients have varied interests. “I love connecting with patients – seeing familiar faces and watching people grow and change,” she says.

Diedrich adds, “It’s our hope that by raising awareness of available resources, we’ve taken another step in the fight against mental health stigma.”

More about recreation therapy at Lifespan hospitals