Les Métamorphes: how can artistic expression promote the well-being in juvenile psychiatry?
Following the success of Jus d'Orange in 2022, the Fondation EME won the Jugendpraïs “One for Creativity” award, which enabled it to fund a new project in 2023, called Les Métamorphes, with young people from the Orangerie3 juvenile psychiatry ward.
What is mental health?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as:
“A state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.”
Mental well-being, an integral part of health, is therefore a major concern, especially among children and adolescents, since “half of all mental health problems in adulthood develop before the age of 14”, according to a UNICEF report (2021). Thus, untreated mental disorders in young people have a long-term impact on their health and general well-being.
In Luxembourg, mental health problems affect around 16.5% of young people aged between 10 and 19, according to a UNICEF analysis (2019). In this context, the Orangerie3 is the juvenile psychiatry department of the Centre Hospitalier Neuro-Psychiatrique (CHNP) in Ettelbruck. It cares for young people aged between 12 and 17 with psychiatric disorders, as well as those at risk of harming themselves or others: “The unit's mission is to care for and reintegrate into society adolescents who suffer from a psychological disorder, mainly a social behaviour disorder”.
How can artistic expression promote mental health?
For Dr. Elisabeth Seimetz, psychologist at the Ligue Luxembourgeoise d'Hygiène Mentale, one of the pillars for improving mental well-being is to:
“Listen to children and teenagers and encourage them to express their concerns and ideas”.
For several years now, the Fondation EME has been organising “Summer@CHNP” projects with the support of the Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte, which this year is called Les Métamorphes. For three weeks in August, the teenagers at the Orangerie3 have had the opportunity to express their feelings, emotions and experiences through art and dance, in order to create an artistic video in which they will be the main characters.
During the workshops, the teenagers have imagined and made multicoloured masks and costumes together, from recycled materials, to create characters that represent them. They then acted them out in a series of stories, with no limits to the creation of their own universe. Visual artist Aurélie D'Incau and choreographer Tania Soubry have helped the teenagers of the Orangerie3 through the creative process, and video artist Julie Schroell has been behind the camera to capture the stories that have come straight from their imaginations, but which have also conveyed their deepest emotions.
The creation of a musical object helps to rebuild self-esteem through the achievement of a concrete project. It helps to boost self-confidence and shows the human being ahead of the person with a mental disorder. Here, artistic practice becomes a place for socialisation that can be a laboratory for experimenting with psychological therapy.
How can we go further?
In a UNICEF report (2021), Dr Elisabeth Seimetz also mentions raising public awareness of mental health as a lever for action. Through projects such as Les Métamorphes, the Fondation EME also wants to inform the public and raise awareness of the issue of mental well-being among children and teenagers.
By highlighting their creative power and artistic sensitivity, the Fondation is seeking to reduce the stigma attached to people suffering from mental disorders and to promote mental health.
Watch the video of the 2022 project, Jus d’Orange, below.