Mental Health & Wellbeing Programmes

Belfast Exposed runs a series of photography programmes designed to help participants improve their mental health and wellbeing. Our programmes encourage participants to:

  • Be calm, connected and present
  • Be more focused, engaged and productive
  • Encourage learning, creativity and motivation
  • Learn and develop creative & technical skills
  • Improve confidence and self-esteem
  • Build emotional resilience
  • Take and inspire positive action
  • A form of stress relief and encourage self-care

We encourage individuals, groups and organisations to talk to us to learn more about the programmes we offer.

We place community engagement at the core of our work. Not only are we are a gallery of contemporary photography, centre of education and unique archive. But we also search for new ways to make photography relevant to the everyday lives of people within our communities. As a post-conflict society, Northern Ireland has both a high prevalence of inter-generational trauma and above average rates of mental health diagnoses. This means that we work with people with a wide range of mental health & wellbeing concerns. And we do this on a daily basis.

In this setting, photography has a range of uses. Firstly, it is a tool for participants to document their struggles. Secondly, it is a way to tell local stories to wider audience. Finally, it is a relaxing, social activity that serves as an enjoyable and safe space.

Our programmes are based on Viewpoint, a ground breaking use of therapeutic photography. It focuses primarily on distraction and disruption, engaging individuals and communities of all ages, abilities and backgrounds with creative photography. In addition, we have also developed the Wellbeing Photography Programme. This is designed to help participants improve wellbeing and resilience through motivation, positive reinforcements and creative & engaging photographic activities.

Wellbeing Photography Programme

The Wellbeing Photography Programme focuses on the enjoyment that photography brings and its ability to connect us with others. The programme is about being fully present and using photography as a distraction, coping mechanism and catalyst for improving quality of life. It helps participants develop techniques for building resilience, confidence and self-esteem, and can be a form of stress relief. All of these factors contribute to improved wellbeing. Participants learn and develop the creative, technical skills needed to take great photographs. Through capturing images, the programme also leads to increased physical and social activity.

Through blended learning, our programmes are accessible, engaging and interactive. Participants do not require experience of photography or a digital camera. Participants only need a smartphone and a willingness to learn photography and the art of wellbeing.

All of our programmes also incorporate the NHS ‘five steps to positive wellbeing’ – Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Give & Take Notice.

Viewpoint

Created by Belfast Exposed in collaboration with community stakeholders, Viewpoint is co-designed to help participants improve their mental health & wellbeing and build resilience through participation in creative photography. Our therapeutic photography is based on distraction, disruption and offers individuals a powerful outlet for self-expression. Viewpoint involves work with both Health and Social Care Trusts, and Voluntary & Community organisations that work specifically with mental health & wellbeing. Additionally, it is flexible to the needs for participants and can be adapted to a wide variety of groups, as well as allowing for one-on-one sessions with some participants.


“It is a tonic for me when I am in the bottom of depression – it is unbelievable what the photography project has done for me. I’ve never been so happy. I can take photographs until my heart’s content.” – Jim


Get in touch about the programmes we offer.

Participants from the Mae Murray Foundation take a break during a Wellbeing Session, Portstewart.
Participants from the Mae Murray Foundation take a break during a Wellbeing Session, Portstewart.

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