ELIH behavioral health center gets new mural

Art Therapist Leaves Her Mark

Tess Parker, a creative arts therapist at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, has painted a mural in the hospital’s Behavioral Health Center. Independent/Courtesy Eastern Long Island Hospital

Theresa “Tess” Parker, a creative arts therapist at Eastern Long Island Hospital’s Behavioral Health Center, has left her own artistic mark on the hospital’s walls in the form of a recently completed mural.

Parker, who joined the Greenport hospital’s staff in January, has created an immersive environment of serenity with her floor-to-ceiling, nature-themed mural in the center’s “Comfort Room.”

Featuring familiar images of a beautiful shoreline, graceful birds in flight, and a lush forest scene, the mural evokes an unmistakable sense of peace that has proven to be highly conducive to patient recovery.

The mural took Parker approximately 75 hours to complete. “They were fully supportive of it,” she said of the hospital’s administration.

Parker graduated from Hofstra University with a master’s degree in creative arts therapy. “Everything that I put in, down to specific flowers, color usage, everything has either some sort of symbolism or metaphor within it that is theorized to benefit the patients and to relax them,” she said.

The mural adds something invaluable to ELIH’s Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, and any addition of “comfort” is welcome in such an environment.

“Unfortunately, there’s so much stigma in society attached with mental health and addiction. I think it’s important for patients to work through and say you know what, I’m going to work through all of the negative emotions, I’m going to work on me. I think a huge part of that is
insight and mindfulness,” Parker said.

So far, Parker said she’s received very positive feedback from staff and patients alike. “It’s part of their patient rights to have a place to go to reflect on this and feel grounded,” she said. “That’s the reason why I did the roots so boldly, to show there’s a strong foundation there. You know, they’re in such a vulnerable state, so I want to make sure that I’m really playing on the theme of it being a comfort room in inpatient psych.”

Now that her first project is complete, the hospital’s staff is looking forward to seeing more of Parker’s works. “You point, and I’ll paint,” she said.

Eastern Long Island Hospital is home to several highly regarded behavioral health programs in Suffolk County, and its Behavioral Health Center of Excellence employs a number of board certified physicians, licensed nurses, credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors, licensed social workers, and recreational therapists.

ELIH’s Behavioral Health Center is a place where compassionate professionals work to maintain a nurturing environment that enables patients to stabilize, recover, and transition back into the community. For more information, visit www.elih.org.

By Stephen J. Kotz