Celebrating Mental Health Month with Arts in the Garden
On May 1, 2015, more than 800 individuals filled the gardens at Skyland Trail for the 15th annual Arts in the Garden to kick off Mental Health Month and celebrate the strengths and talents of individuals living with a mental illness. Skyland Trail hosts the event annually, and many other organizations in Atlanta’s mental health services community participate. This year we were honored to have Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal visit as well.
Throughout the day, guests enjoyed a wide range of visual arts on display and for sale as well as live performances – all from individuals living with mental illness. An Artist Market with 45 participating local vendors sold unique arts and crafts including fine art paintings and drawings, jewelry, ceramics, hand-dyed scarfs, hand-crafted candles, natural soaps, and homemade jams. The main stage was filled with live music and spoken word performances from the mental health community, including the Skyland Trail Alumni Band, Youth Villages – Inner Harbour Drummers, and the Community Friendship Inc. Choir. Throughout the day, guests also enjoyed an art gallery, art demonstrations like yarn spinning and a pottery wheel, and a plant sale in the greenhouse.
The day included four-legged friends as well. Happy Tails Pet Therapy brought pet therapy animals to Arts in the Garden – dogs and bunnies. Wandering through the Skyland Trail gardens, guests also encountered a therapy pony, tropical birds, and a petting zoo.
Proceeds from the event benefit the artists who are living and thriving with a mental illness, including bipolar illness, major depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders. Arts in the Garden is a project of the unique adjunctive therapies program at Skyland Trail, which includes horticultural, process art, product art, music, and recreational therapy. Led by caring professionals who are experts in their fields, adjunctive group sessions help clients find new ways to express their thoughts and emotions, learn new skills, build confidence, and interact with their peers and the community.