Art Makes Minds Strong

An art program for youth who struggle with addictions and concurrent disorders

Pilot Location: The Concurrent Youth Unit Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario

Program Designer and Facilitator: Sarah Teitel, EXAT

Consulting Psychiatrist: Dr. Amit Rotem, MD

Art Makes Minds Strong (AMMS) is an immersive art intervention that serves inpatient youth who struggle with addictions and concurrent disorders. AMMS encompasses elements of several evidence-based arts interventions; what makes AMMS unique is its emphasis on treating participants as serious, capable artists. Participants are allowed ample time and space to create. High quality art materials are offered to participants. The program is led by a professional artist who has experience working with special populations. Guest artists visit with participants periodically to share about their work and processes.

Youth say that participating in AMMS relaxes them; that having artistic freedom and choice along with the support and interest of the facilitator allows them to comfortably experiment with new modes of action and engagement; that they’re able to practice social skills through collaborating on projects. Participating youth also say that AMMS activities help them build feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy, and provide them with welcome distraction from symptoms of withdrawal.

Next steps in developing AMMS include forging partnerships with the broader arts community and developing a research protocol to assess the program.

To learn more about AMMS, please email

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