I am a first-year child and adolescent psychiatry fellow here at Rush. My first rotation here was on the inpatient unit where we work with children from ages 7 to 18 going through acute impairments, including depression, suicidal thoughts or attempts and behavioral disturbances. They spend an average of four to seven days in the inpatient unit, where they work on improving their coping skills, way of life, self-esteem and assertiveness, along with many other aspects of day-to-day living.
My role in working with them is to get to know them on an emotional/therapeutic level and then help guide treatment that is most conducive to them. These kids come from all walks of life, and connecting to them can be a difficult task. I would consistently find that many would use an artistic outlet of one form or another to help them cope during stressful times. This would include anything from music, drawing, photography and reading to painting.
Upon starting my rotation, the unit was going through some changes. The rooms were changed and the walls were painted with new colors for a vibrant, inviting feel for the kids. I chose to create a painting because I noticed some walls could use something new and vibrant for today’s kids to notice and connect to. So during my rotation I would work on the painting here and there and decided to use a brief but inspirational quote for the kids coming in to notice and keep themselves motivated. I also was able to choose where to hang it, so it was hung in front of the art room/hallway for kids to use as they pleased.
I work in the field of psychiatry and am definitely an advocate of the traditional therapies and medications. However, I’m also a strong believer in the influence of art and music and try to incorporate that into my treatment whenever possible.
Along with practicing medicine, I have spent many years as a painter, photographer and musician. I have found these avenues to be comforting for myself as well as those around me during times of happiness and stress. I have kept these side jobs ongoing and am now finding even more of a purpose to utilize them.