Art of managing mental well-being

IN recognizing the severity of teenage mental health issues in Malaysia, a team of experts in psychology and art conducted a project to help students cope with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) social psychologist Dr Suzanna Bono said mosaic and Zentangle art were used to help students of SMK Jelutong in Jelutong, Penang, manage their psychological well-being.

“The project was funded by USM’s industry and community network division.

“It was conducted through a few art-making sessions that lasted three months,” said Bono, who led the project.

She said mosaic and Zentangle art served as a type of meditation to help reduce stress and address mental health issues.

She explained that the processes involved a lot of energy, patience and focus, which then led to calmness and peace of mind among participants.

Lim Pei Fern, a Masters student pursuing art therapy in the School of Social Sciences, said students were guided on expressing their experiences, problems and emotions through their art pieces.

Bono (left) and Lim holding mosaic art pieces done by the participants.

“The concept of upcycling was integrated in this project, whereby broken and discarded mosaic tile pieces were used to create unique art products,” said Lim, who is the project’s mosaic art instructor.

USM School of Arts lecturer Dr Safia Najwa Suhaimi was the Zentangle art instructor.

The theme for one of the artworks was Covid-19, where students had to come up with meaningful names such as “anxiety”, “fate” and “qalbi” for their projects.

Thirty Form Four students from SMK Jelutong were involved in the art project, along with their school counselors who served as project facilitators.

Bono said the pandemic had left some students emotionally disturbed, depressed and stressed.

“Some students have encountered difficulties in their lives, and some lost their loved ones.”


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