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Art therapy back on

King Street artists underneath their newly painted sign. PHOTOS/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

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People who may be struggling with mental health after lockdown should be aware they are welcome to get involoved with King Street Artworks, said manager Ian Chapman.

“In mental health, self-directed care is very important,” he said.

Brent Bartram is making a covid-19 grenade for the what we did in covid-19 exhibition at the end of June.

It is only when people are at their lowest and struggling with mental health when someone in their circle will ask, “have you tried King Street?”.

Aware that they serve mostly Masterton, Chapman said, “we are very Masterton-centric and we want to be in the lower part of Wairarapa. There’s lots of need down there”.

The centre which focuses on art as therapy began 23 years ago and sought to serve the community as an alternative for patients who were suffering from depression but wanted an alternative to medication.

Chapman said over the years they have managed to log outcomes for people proving “fewer visits to the GP, less visits to the emergency department and less reliance on medication”.

Success happens when “people are feeling valued and connected”, Chapman said.

“We’re not just a drop-in centre. People have got to do something and work when they’re here.”

Shelley Vernon of Masterton is happy to be back at King St post lockdown.

Though the facility was considered an essential service during lockdown, Chapman said the nature and size of the place meant they could only reopen again at Alert Level 3.

There still had to be a registration process and only 10 people could be on site at a time.

At Level 2, that number rose to 15.

“There are no other organisations that are free with an open door policy – so you don’t have to be referred by a GP or a clinician and you don’t have to declare that you fall under funding criteria”.

He commends Wairarapa District Health Board for having the vision to fully fund the art centre and said it had always been “ahead of its time”.

“Throughout covid, people were coming here and they may be venting about their power bills or the kids and things like that, there’s a lot of peer support here.”

He expected there would be an increased need for more facilities like this as people started to recover from job losses in the community.

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