Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Funding and Development Agency
for The Arts in Northern Ireland

028 9262 3555

Latest News
Browse Archive

Antrim teens head into the studio for unique mental health project

Friday 10th August 2018 at 2pm 0 Comments ARTiculate Young People & Wellbeing Arts Programme

Mentors Shannan Barrett, Antrim Grammar School and Hannah Brennan, Sperrins Integrated College are pictured with Aidan Tracy (7), Cailin Simpson, (9), with Una McCann, Professional Musician, Songwriter and Community Choir leader Image: Mentors Shannan Barrett, Antrim Grammar School and Hannah Brennan, Sperrins Integrated College are pictured with Aidan Tracy (7), Cailin Simpson, (9), with Una McCann, Professional Musician, Songwriter and Community Choir leader

A group of young people living around Rathenraw estate in Antrim have been putting the finishing touches to their recording debut for a unique music project tackling mental health issues.

The project organised by Fresh Minds Education is one of 27 to have received funding as part of ARTiculate, a three-year £600,000 programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds and the Public Health Agency (PHA), which uses artists and the arts to give a voice to issues affecting young people.

Working with professional artist Una McCann, the group attended a series of workshops to explore emotional health themes through music and song writing. Involving young people from primary and secondary schools, the project was spearheaded by seventeen 12-18 year olds who worked with the younger children to draw out the emotions which affect them most, including feeling angry, sad, anxious, worried or low. By taking a creative approach, the group was able to explore the feelings and learn the AMBER approach, which is a structure that supports children to develop coping mechanisms in a safe and relaxed environment.

To mark the end of their project, Red Box Media visited the group to record some of the music they have been working on.

Aine Wallace who developed the project on behalf of Fresh Minds Education explained:

“This is the first time that this group of teenagers have been engaged in an arts based mental health programme.  Over the past two months we have watched their confidence grow and their real selves shine. 

“This isn’t a programme where we simply talk about issues. In this programme we talk about our feelings and our relationships. We talk about the brave work of being open to fail, yet courageous enough to rise again.  These teenagers came with a view to support younger children and have left with a sense of hope and optimism for the future and a sense of belonging in the community where they live.” 

Lorraine Calderwood, ARTiculate Programme Manager, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The positive links between engagement in the arts and wellbeing are firmly established.  Working together with the Public Health Agency, the Arts Council is supporting a diverse range of projects right across Northern Ireland that open up opportunities for young people to engage in the arts and the many benefits that brings, such as promoting self-expression, and developing self-confidence and self-motivation.

“It is fantastic to be here today and see how all the young people have bravely come together to address some of the difficult issues identified head on. Working with musician Una McCann they’ve been able to take part in a really enjoyable project, bond together as a group, and develop some really valuable life skills.”

Amanda O’ Neill, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer with the PHA said:

“This programme is a great example of how arts can be used in an innovative way to give a voice to young people and encourage help-seeking behaviour. The PHA recognise the positive impact that the arts can play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of our young people. The participants benefit in a number of ways such as making new friends, learning new skills, gaining confidence in their abilities. They also learn about the mental health support that is available to them.”

The ARTiculate programme was launched in January 2017. The programme will run over three years and it is anticipated that approximately 35 projects will be supported as a result of the funding. The programme is delivered by artists and arts organisations working in partnership with youth and community organisations linked to the PHA across a range of health improvement themes.

Further information is available from 



Comments (0)

Add Your Comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.