Create to move from shadow to light

In these difficult times for our health system, there are still remarkable initiatives that give hope. Among those that stand out, there is one that I want to talk to you about: Espace Transition, a program launched in 2009 by psychiatrist Patricia Garel, from Sainte-Justine hospital. There, a whole team helps young people who are experiencing great psychological suffering.

The Espace Transition team allows a return to a more rewarding social life after a period of acute care for a mental health issue. The DD Patricia Garel explains to me that this transition is made through artistic creation workshops. She specifies that art personally supported and accompanied her during her adolescence, particularly through playing the cello. Today she wants to give back to young people all the good that art has brought her. She wanted to offer them places of creation where they could find well-being, greater social adaptation and destigmatization in the face of their psychological condition. Taking the time to listen is what has always guided his interventions, a disposition that is so valuable and desirable in current practices.

This artistic creation initiative that she set up alongside her clinical activities is above all a place where young people feel neither judged nor evaluated. “It’s a safe and protective space where we can discover who we really are. »

Several activities are offered to adolescents, whether they have a psychiatric diagnosis or not. These workshops, which extend over 12 weeks, are supervised by speakers and led by artists, musicians, chefs or professional dancers. An entire community has been woven around these young people: for 15 years, organizations like the Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal Opera, the Tablée des chefs, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Société des arts technologies and the Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art are involved with them. Each workshop ends with a collective work presented to the public. Young people can follow several workshops according to their wishes. All free of charge, in a bright room at Sainte-Justine hospital or often on the artistic partner’s premises.


Espace Transition dance workshop in collaboration with Sylvain Émard Danse

And success is there. University research carried out in connection with the activities offered demonstrates that despite their fragility, young people thrive in complete safety. For example, since the beginning, more than 1,000 young people have benefited from these workshops, in Montreal or elsewhere in Quebec such as Vaudreuil, Saint-Jérôme and Rivière-du-Loup.

The DD Garel and his small team devoted all this time to their protégés out of conviction. The conviction that art, in a group, without stigma and with the right support, can considerably help and relieve young people struggling with various mental health disorders. This stimulating context highlights each person’s potential and strengths rather than their difficulties. The DD Garel insists that art can do immense good in adolescence, and artists are excellent caregivers, guided by their own sensitivity and creativity.

In a documentary produced in 2014, a father testifies, explaining that Espace Transition changed his son’s life and that the support he received produced exceptional results. And at the end of a show, a workshop leader sums up the experience by saying: “These young people are heroes, often applauded for the first time. They all climbed a mountain they had never been to. »

The distress that our young people are currently experiencing concerns all of society. How do we want to support and help them when they are struggling with several difficulties, psychological, motivational, academic or even physical? How can we recognize the true value of those who believe in these young people and who invest themselves well beyond their professional responsibilities? Restoring hope and self-confidence through art, through sport, through projects of all kinds is imperative! As a society, we must support all initiatives that help young people who are suffering to view their lives differently than through the prism of despair and anxiety.

Espace Transition is a remarkable example, through a humanist and artistic project which not only brings benefits to the physical and psychological health of young people, but also allows them to experience unconditional kindness towards them.

Patricia Garel and her team distribute this kindness, allowing hundreds of young people to move from the shadows to the light.

Just before Christmas, I attended a dance show organized by Espace Transition, and a participant summed up the impact that initiatives like this can have on our youth: “I am never proud of myself, so it’s a great thing that I’m proud of myself tonight! » Or this other young woman, now a health professional: “I thank you for believing in me when I was no longer capable of it. »


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