Animation from city's day service about mental health experiences



A group of individuals from Cardiff's mental health day service have produced an animationthat reflects their lived experiences of mental health conditions.

The project, ‘Beyond the Label' is funded by the National Lottery and is a collaboration with Cardiff Council's Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Service and Breath Creative.

Entitled ‘Diamond', the video was produced over a period of three months, from May to July 2020, with eight individuals who engage with the service having weekly online sessions with facilitators to create artwork and writing for the animation.

Contributors also worked with composer and sound artist John Rea to create individual sound pieces of themselves reciting their poetry, sometimes singing and playing instruments. The collection of work was used by Jane Hubbard to create the animation.

Ty Canna provides one-to-one mental health support for people across the city and has been organising a range of online activities during the pandemic to help individuals feel less isolated, such as mental health workshops, French classes, yoga and cooking skills.

Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Susan Elsmore, said: "The wide range of support available from Ty Canna staff, its volunteers and its partners are valued by us all, particularly in these challenging times. The outcome of this project is very moving and a fantastic achievement from everyone involved."

The collaboration with Breathe Creative takes a ‘co-creative' approach which offers a safe and therapeutic environment to engage with the arts and improve wellbeing through creative expression.

Breathe Creative offer co-creative arts for wellbeing projects, workshops and training in Music & Voice, Visual Arts & Crafts, Dance, Drama, Creative Writing, Film and Animation.

They also offer creative approaches for community development, working with communities and organisations to promote and support positive change.

The project has been beneficial to individuals who engage with Ty Canna services, with a number of contributors sharing feedback about how the creative process improved their mental health.

Contributor, Jen, said: "I feel like I've really opened up during this process. My inner creativity has been unlocked. Writing, in the space of a few minutes, really brought out what's raw, what I needed to say from the soul. It was cathartic."

Contributor, Judith, also reflected on how the project improved her confidence: "It built on my self-confidence, as we all tend to share what we have written.  I usually hate public speaking but doing it over Zoom really helps because we are doing it in our own surroundings but are still connecting with others."

One of the contributors, Maddy, spoke about the service Ty Canna provides: "When asked to write about myself I always struggle, so instead I thought I'd share with you a little about Ty Canna. This service is a life line to myself and many other people with mental health difficulties. Ty Canna enabled this creative project to happen. People who have been referred here share great support, empathy and understanding to one another, that is invaluable. Groups help build confidence, act as a distraction, skills can be learnt, coping tools are shared and the service is a safe haven for me. Often great friendships are formed. Staff are supportive, they often have lived experience, and everyone celebrates small achievements that are often missed in the pressures of modern living."

To watch the full video on Cardiff Council's YouTube, visit:


Ty Canna contributors: Jen, Judith, Nick, Sarah, Mandy, Maddy, Ellie, Kate

Facilitators: Katja Stiller and Sarah Featherstone

Animator: Jane Hubbard

Composer and Sound Artist: John Rea

Special Thanks to Lewis Rigley and the Ty Canna team