Art therapy for mental health
Art Therapy

Art Therapy for Mental Health – Therapeutic art

Can Art Therapy be a treatment for Mental Illness?

Although the life quality increased in the past decade, people are not as happy as they should be. According to the latest scientific researches and statistics, 1 in 6 people suffers from depression or anxiety, each year. There is an overall increase in mental disorders and illnesses that affect people around the globe. What is sad is that these problems start developing in adolescence or even childhood. So can art therapy for mental health be the solution?

There are many factors that are involved in this process and affect the human mind:

  • the workload
  • stress related to work
  • family problems
  • health problems
  • social media side effects
  • medication side effects
  • traumas
Art Therapy for Mental Health Photo source: pixabay.com
Art Therapy for Mental Health Photo source: pixabay.com

And all these factors create problems and mental illnesses and disorders that affect the mind and the body. Nowadays, many of the body illnesses are firstly triggered by a mental illness. For example, a stressed and weakened mind creates a great environment for flu and cold.

From my experience, after a long period of anxiety, stress, and depression I was told by my doctor that I developed polycystic ovaries. Even though my blood results were normal and I have no hormonal problems, this illness developed quite rapidly. Another illness that affected me is gastritis. Every time I would feel anxiety and stress, I could feel pain in my stomach. All the mental problems should be treated in the same way as any other health problem.

Mental illnesses

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • depression
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • phobias
  • panic
  • eating disorder: bulimia, anorexy, etc

My question is if there is such a thing as Art Therapy for Mental Health?

Art therapy for mental health Photo Source: pixabay.com
Art therapy for mental health Photo Source: pixabay.com

My answer would be: “Yes!”. Art therapy for mental illness is a real method of alleviating the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression over the mind. I fought these problems many times in my life and art therapy helped me deal with those moments when I felt I couldn’t escape.

Art therapy for mental illness is a new method of “talk therapy”. The patient is helped to express himself through creative activities.  Through drawing or painting, the patient moving the focus from inside his head to the outer world. They learn to concentrate and be a part of the drawing.

What can do Art Therapy for Mental Health?

  • helps children and adults explore and acknowledge their emotions
  • calms and soothes the mind
  • improves self-esteem
  • manages addictions
  • improves the symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • helps deal with pain and physical illness
  • improves self-expression
  • helps imagination and creativity
  • encourages finding solutions for daily issues

The best part of art therapy is that you don’t need talent or drawing and painting skills. Art therapy is about expressing how you feel when not even the words can do it. We don’t pay attention to the artistic value, but to the creative choices and the sense of relief accompanying them. Most of the time, art therapy lets the unconscious mind express itself and reveal messages and beliefs.

Although mental illnesses are no longer perceived like they were in the past, when a mental illness was automatically labeled craziness, people are still ashamed to admit if they have a mental problem. So when someone is invited to paint or create something out of clay, this stigmata disappears and the patient feels more at ease.

What art therapy exercises help mental illnesses?

Any manifestation on paper, canvas, clay or even a musical instrument can stand as a therapeutic activity. When drawing or painting, the patient should set aside any worry regarding how the artwork will look and center on his feelings. They need to focus on things like:

  • correlation between colors and feelings: for example, I am feeling empty and cold and for me, the color blue is relevant for this emotions, so I will use blue. Depending on what impression you have from each color, you should use them and express your feelings on paper.
  • correlation between shapes and emotions: some patient would draw sharp shapes, triangles, hard edges during stressed periods or when they feel angry, and soft, round objects when feeling more pleasant.
  • letting go of thoughts and going with the flow. 

There are many exercises you can do for Art Therapy for Mental Health. To check a few, go to this blog article – Art Therapy for Anxiety.

 Other types of art therapy activities

Besides painting and drawing, there are other types of art therapy for mental health that can be tackled. These activities include movement, sounds, and performances. If painting is not your thing you can also try one of these:

  • therapy through acting or theatrical performances – involves trying to get in a role and trying to perceive the world from another point of view.
  • dance therapy – movement and physical exercises are always welcome, and dance therapy helps express emotions through body language.
  • music therapy – a great way to feel better is to listen to music or play music. It’s proved that playing an instrument improves logical thinking and organization. It can be a great help when coping with harsh emotions.

Conclusion

It’s important to keep your mind strong and healthy. Nowadays, we are facing lots of stressful and anxious situations, so we need to know to deal with them and arm ourselves with healthy solutions such as art therapy. Art therapy will improve your mental health and also help you acquire a new skill. 😉

 

I'm Cristina, the admin and author of this blog. I love art and life.