THE creativity and talent of patients, too often overshadowed by their condition,was at the heart of Mental Health Awareness Week this year.

Artwork produced by former and current service users was unveiled at Chatsworth House on Tuesday to coincide with the week of action.

The paintings, woodcarvings and pieces fashioned out of felt, will now have pride of place at the centre, giving the Old Town facilities a more welcoming feel.

Over the past year, service users attended the TWIGS craft studio and collaborated on abour 20 colourful works of art.

The project was launched to allow people experiencing mental health problems, to regain their confidence and self-esteem and learn new skills.

“We involved 30 of our service users in the TWIGS project,” said Penny Errill, a social worker in the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership recovery team.

“They all experienced mental distress. They came up with great artistic work.

“We wanted to show a different side to mental health. “It’s very healing for people to be involved in these kinds of project. “We all feel proud when we have done something that looks good. It’s very good for our self-esteem. “And for them to see their art on the walls is thrilling.”

Many techniques were used to adorn and brighten the walls, such as rag-rugging, felting and appliqué.

Some of the works focused on iconic Swindon and Wiltshire landmarks, while others centred around the themes of hope and wellbeing.

Brenda Green, of Eldene, who suffered from social phobia, said bringing herself to attending the craft studio was a challenge in itself.

But meeting others in similar circumstances and working as a team allowed her to get her confidence back.

“A lot of people suffer from mental health issues and art is a way to express your feelings,” she said.

“I think being creative and sensitive is all part of mental health. “I had a social phobia for years. Working in a group was hard but being with people who suffered like me has helped me. You tend to think you’re on your own but you’re not.

“It’s an achievement to see something on the walls you are proud of.”

Chris Dunn, of Rodbourne Cheney, was one of the many artists involved.

She said: “It has really helped. The studio was a safe haven and it helped bring out our creativity. “I have a social phobia so going to TWIGS was difficult but we got a lot of support and the artwork allowed us to forget our troubles.”