Students in Jersey learn how to look after their mental health through art

Students in Jersey who struggle to talk about their mental health are being encouraged to show how they are feeling through art.

Ally Zlatar is a Canadian artist who has visited schools in Jersey to tell them how she used art to talk about her eating disorder through her exhibition.

'The Starving Artist' explores her experience of mental illness, eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

The project started in 2017 as an exhibition and publication with five artists, but Ally said she received an overwhelming response which encouraged her to share her work on a larger scale.

Students have been learning about Ally's journey of healing her mental health through her artwork. Credit: ITV Channel

Ally said the stigma surrounding mental health and eating disorders is often one of the biggest things people struggle to accept.

"I think that's one of the biggest road blocks but I really hope that through even sharing my voice not only as an act of bravery but as an act of reassurance that it's ok to admit that you're suffering.

"We shouldn't shy away from mental health conversations instead we should really create spaces like this to facilitate them and delve deeper into it."

Le Rocquier School pupils took part in an interactive workshop with the visiting artist. Credit: ITV Channel

Ally's success led to Art House Jersey inviting her to the island to speak to schools and local eating disorder support groups.

Her work has been widely welcomed in Jersey and has sparked promising conversations.

Amy Dingle from Jersey Eating Disorder Support said: "I think it's just one message of hope.

"Ally has shown that she's been in real dark places she's shown that visually in those images and that she's now in a much better place and enjoying her life and fulfilling what she's always dreamed of."

Demand for mental health services for under 18's in Jersey is up by 26% in the last four years and Ally's work hopes to inspire young people to seek help when it is needed.

"Using art using your personal experiences and your voice to help spread awareness of what you're going through.

"So whether it be sharing it with loved ones or keeping it as a tool for yourself art is such a powerful element in exploring mental health."

Students have welcomed the workshops in schools, with one student saying they hope it leads to more comfortable conversations taking place.

  • Le Rocquier School student

"I think it's really important because not much people like my age talk about it or open up to it to their parents about it especially so having someone that's been through that talk about it.

"It kinda makes people more comfortable about opening up about it because they don't feel alone, they don't feel like they're the only person going through that stuff."