Dagenham arts group offers stage coaching to help mental health sufferers

The Creative Life Skills course takes place at Chadwell Heath Community Centre. Photo: Arnaud Stephe

The Creative Life Skills course takes place at Chadwell Heath Community Centre. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

The secrets of the stage could help people with mental health problems in everyday life.

Dagenham community arts organisation Green Shoes Arts is offering a free 12-week course on “creative life skills” to help residents overcome anxiety and boost their self-esteem.

“We are using drama techniques to help people become more confident at speaking to the people in their lives,” project manager Jenn Nesbitt said:

But if that sounds daunting, she is keen to reassure visitors that they won’t be expected to get on stage in front of a packed audience. The course is instead more about practicality than performance.

“We are not creating a play but we use those skills to help people feel more able to get out and go to job interviews for example,” Jenn explained.

The sessions are led by professional artists, no experience is necessary and anyone with a mental health condition is invited to come along.

Previous attendees include people tackling anxiety, depression, stress or who were on the autistic spectrum, and the classes will help tackle the isolation that these conditions can often cause.

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“Being around other people that understand the situation is really powerful because you feel less alone,” Jenn said. “It’s a way to come out and meet new people that can understand.”

However, Green Shoes recognises that this can be an intimidating prospect for some people.

“If you want to call and ask any questions you can, or just come down – there’s no pressure to join,” Jenn added. “You can just check it out and see if it’s for you.”

The first class is on Tuesday and runs from 12pm to 2pm at Chadwell Heath Community Centre in High Road. To find out more, visit greenshoesarts.com or call 020 8270 4305.