By Renee Etcheberria |Staff Writer|
Patients at Patton State Hospital gain mental balance and normality through an art program that began 18 years ago.
Patton State Hospital is a major forensic mental hospital operated by the California Department of Mental Health. All patients at Patton State Hospital have been commissioned by the judicial system for court competency and psychiatric treatment
Upon arrival to the facility, patients are placed within a living unit which is one of the seven treatment programs. Throughout treatment the mentally ill adults are provided with psychiatric care, develop a well and recovery plan with the help of psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, rehabilitation therapist, registered nurse and psychiatric technician.
Patton State Hospital first opened its doors in 1893 and is located in the hills of San Bernardino and currently has a capacity of 1,287 beds for patients.
Approximately one third of the residents at Patton, roughly 500 hundred patients participate in the art program. The program began 18 years ago and includes various outlets of art such as ceramics, culinary arts, theater arts, murals and writing.
This program was designed to create a place of healing, allowing patients to have a positive source of support for their overall recovery.
According to The San Bernardino Sun, Robyn Kohr, coordinator of the arts at Patton has seen how beneficial the art program is to the patients.
“We have had people who had no social skills and they were really down, and we were able to watch them come out their shell through art,” said Kohr.
Art and mental health groups are held five days a week for one to two hours with Friday’s being the most popular and has 14 to 15 patients in the day.
Most recently Patton hosted a campus art show in September that showcased the work of the artists within the program. Friends and family members were invited to come see the gallery of art and its artists.
A hospital spokeswoman expressed to The Sun the importance of staying connected to the outside world to remind the patients of the positive things in their lives. Although these artists are limited in the tools they are allowed to use they still get to express their artistic ability with the use of charcoal, acrylics and watercolors.
According to The Sun, Oscar Vega Romero a patient and artist at Patton embraces the art program, using it as an outlet to express his thoughts and feelings through various images created on canvas.
“Art gives us a different label than criminal,” said Romero.
The art program gives ease to the daily living of patients, allows them to quiet their mind and release any negative energy they may have.
Therapists are also in favor of the art program expressing that the program increases self-esteem and focus.
Overall the art programs give patients a positive place to express how they are feeling while gaining a sense of normalcy.