Valeo Behavioral Health Care & Heritage Bank Art Exhibit begins Monday

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Laura Silverberg was told she would be in a group nursing home for the rest of her life, after struggling for years with mental illness.

“I suffer from depression and bi-polar, more towards depression. It’s been quite the journey.  I used to be very suicidal.  I’ve done some very destructive things to myself and I had to work very, very hard,” said Laura.

Today she’s been independent for 23 years.  She thanks Valeo Behavioral Health Care’s Expressive Arts therapy program for helping her cope.

“The artwork has helped me to calm down and get into my artistic abilities,” said Laura.

“Art therapy is a means of using art making, several types of mediums that you might work with to explore your thoughts, your feelings, your goals in life.  It just accesses a lot of different feelings for us that you can’t verbalize,” explained art therapist, Barbara Baeuchle.

The art program works alongside a patient’s modification to improve symptoms of mental illnesses.

“Medication may be very important to get people stabilized. So medication can be very beneficial.  You might also need something else to help the process along the way,” said Baeuchle.

“I try to be a mental health advocate.  I am not embarrassed at all that I have depression.  I think that it’s made me a better artist, because I know what it’s like to feel so down and so low.  It’s helped me feel better about myself and not as hard on myself as I used to be,” explains Laura.

Laura’s chosen jewelry making as her artistic medium. She says, “Throughout the years I have been suicidal, but lately I have not been suicidal.  My depression has subsided. Making jewelry gets me out of myself, and I able to have a more positive outlook and a more positive attitude.”

“So many people have been given this outlet, to increase their confidence level.  To share how this process has helped them with their life and overall well-being.  It’s just awesome.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” said Baeuchle.

Beautiful art, helping to reduce the stigma of mental illnesses.

“We don’t get past the stigma until we address and bring awareness to it.  But we have this opportunity here to have a social atmosphere.  People can come here in community. That’s part of the problem some of the time; not being able to get out socially.  Extend outside of what’s happening to themselves and come together in a community,”

Make sure you stop by Heritage Bank on Wanamaker Road in Topeka, to see artwork on display, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, August 21st through September 1st.

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