ELAN’s Mental Health Initiative: The Joy Of Connecting Through Creativity

Teaching Artists are about the joy of connecting through creativity,

Constantly learning we’re all students, no matter where we are in our lives…

Excerpt from collective poem written by Youth Mental Health Initiative participants.

We are excited to report that ELAN’s 2022-23 Mental Health Initiative trained 35 Teaching Artists and reached over 5700 people of all ages through projects taking place in over 125 schools and community organizations! 

Given the rise in mental health issues in recent years, the push  to support Teaching Artists in meeting participants’ needs is more pertinent now than ever before (CHSSN Documentation Centre). With the support of Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF) and Quebec Drama Federation (QDF), ELAN ArtEd’s Mental Health Initiative provides professional development for Teaching Artists working with children & pre-teens (ages 5-14), youth (ages 15-29) and older adults (ages 55+). Facilitated by Teaching Artist and social worker Alyssa Kuzmarov and music therapist Andy MacDonald, workshops and individual coaching sessions addressed mental health issues as it relates to Teaching Artistry, including:

  • Non-violent communication and active listening, 
  • Inclusion, diversity and multicultural competencies, 
  • Classroom management and group dynamics (drawing out quiet students, attention-seeking behavior, bullying etc.), 
  • Identifying and responding to suicidal ideation, and
  • Maintaining one’s own mental health as a facilitator.

Teaching Artists’ dedication shone through in their engagement with this challenging material, and the discussions that arose out of the application of the material in classrooms and community organizations over the course of the project. This excerpt of a collective poem written by Alyssa Kuzmarov and the Youth Mental Health group shows how Teaching Artists feel about their work:

Teaching Artists are about the joy of connecting through creativity, 

Constantly learning

We’re all students, no matter where we are in our lives.

To connect with Teaching Artists who have received this training, search the ArtistsInspire roster by the search criteria ‘Include only Artists with CHSSN Mental Health Initiative training’. We look forward to supporting you, your schools and your community organizations through projects that are informed by this mental health training!

ELAN’s Mental Health Initiative is funded by the Community Health And Social Services Network (CHSSN). 

3 logos
Students’ exploration of identity through poetry and photography with Teaching Artist Patrycja Maksalon.
Star: Students' exploration of identity
Hand: Students' exploration of identity
Hearty: Students' exploration of identity