Jackson Sun Article, 8/21/2014

Suicide Prevention kick-off held at Jackson General

Three long, narrow sheets of canvas hung on a black frame at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital Wednesday, with the sheets tied up with rope and displaying a rainbow of colors and patterns.

The artwork, inscribed with words like “Why?” and “Suicide,” was designed at the hands of more than 30 suicide survivors and attempters, said Erin Hornsby, whose cousin — Mica Breeden Martin — committed suicide in 2011. Eileen Wallach, founder of Your Heart on Art, helped oversee the art project to provide a therapeutic experience for those overcoming traumatic events.

Displayed during the hospital’s kick-off for September’s Suicide Prevention Month, the mural — titled “In the Raw” — was designed to raise awareness for suicide prevention in Tennessee, said Hornsby, who has since developed the Team Mica Fund for suicide awareness in Madison, Hardeman, Gibson and Chester counties.

“The suicide rate is 12 percent higher in (rural) areas,” said Hornsby, noting that a lack of social integration and reduced availability to mental health facilities and counseling contributes to the high suicide rates. “Our goal is to create awareness of suicide and release the stigma that is tied to it.”

More than 900 Tennesseans committed suicide in 2013 alone, said Melissa Sparks, director of crisis services and suicide prevention for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Due to the high number of suicides, Tennessee is joining the national Zero Suicides movement to help reduce the number of suicides.

Sparks said the movement includes health agencies closing the gaps found in patient care. Agencies will be encouraged to not leave patients “out there on their own,” she said. The risk of suicide is highest within 30 days after a person has a primary care visit, has a emergency department visit or has been discharged from an inpatient psychiatric facility, she added.

“It sounds very ambitious, but we should always be working toward the goal of zero suicides,” Sparks said. “We may never totally accomplish that, but with that goal in mind, it will make us work harder to try to accomplish it.”

Sparks encouraged people to also carefully monitor their family and friends for signs of suicidal thoughts. Checking on people or asking if someone is feeling suicidal can reveal important hints that a person is feeling hopeless or overcome with negative emotions.

“We need to be really diligent in reaching out to each other and embracing each other, supporting each other,” Sparks said. “We’ve got to do a better job of that and not just sit back and wait for someone to come out and say ‘I’m suicidal.'”

Reach Beth Knoll at (731) 425-9641. Follow her on Twitter @merribethknoll.

Link to original article Here.

The Jewish Observer 5/30/2013

‘Your Heart on Art’ helps cut through words toward healing

Posted on: May 30th, 2013 by tgregory

Eileen Wallach

Eileen Wallach helps people find words they never knew they had.  That’s how she describes what she does through Your Heart on Art, a Nashville nonprofit that she founded.

“We facilitate expressive emotional healing through art and creative expression,” she said.   Participants in Your Heart on Art’s workshops and classes use makeup applicators and cotton swabs to create their works, because paintbrushes might be intimidating to those who don’t have art training.  “It’s not about the finished product,” Wallach said. “It’s about the process.”

Wallach is a licensed social worker and earned a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Tennessee.  She also has firsthand knowledge of the need for emotional healing.

Art helped her weather the loss of her husband of 15 years, who took his own life. “In my earlier life I was a victim of domestic violence so I’ve actually been using different forms of therapy throughout my life,” she said.

“Eileen has a special insight on how to help people deal with traumatic experiences, Your Heart on Art provides a unique approach, and our board is committed to providing this service to the community at large,” Moises Paz, chairman of the organization’s board, wrote in an e-mail.

Your Heart on Art participants express themselves in myriad shapes and colors.

Your Heart on Art works out of studio space in a building on White Bridge Road.  It was chartered in August of 2012, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation under Internal Revenue Service regulations, and served 150 people in its first two months, she said.  The organization has worked with the Davidson County court system, with Family & Children’s Service, and other groups.  It is located on a bus line so people without cars can get there easily.

Wallach has been trained in the Art4Healing® therapeutic art techniques of California artist Laurie Zagon.  Zagon initially developed her methodology in New York in 1987 as an art workshop to help Wall Street executives deal with stress. When Wallach learned about Zagon’s techniques, she had her aha moment.  “This is what Nashville needs,” she thought.  “We need to heal wounded hearts through the arts.”

The therapeutic art process that Your Heart on Art offers isn’t the same as art therapy, Wallach said.  With therapeutic art, session leaders guide participants through the creative process and don’t offer an interpretation or diagnosis.  Art therapy, in contrast, involves interpretation of artwork or diagnosis based on it.

Individual sessions at Your Heart on Art in Nashville usually last from two to three hours and include about a dozen people.  Wallach asks participants three questions after they’ve completed their artwork: What was the easiest part in creating the art, what was the hardest part, and what do you think you gained.  Participants say things like, “I can’t believe I was this angry or sad,” she said. •

Link to original article Here.