Mental Health and Art

We all have mental health, but not all of us live with good mental health. The knowledge and understanding of mental health and well-being has majorly improved over the decades, as there was ignorance about mental health, which meant that there was extreme stigmas and fear surrounding it.


Through research, the understanding of mental health has developed, with has had a shift in peoples’ attitudes. Some people appear more open to talk to others about when times are challenging. We’re progressively recognising that we may have times in our life where our mental health could be affected, caused by various circumstances. There is prevalent awareness through media advocating mental health, with some celebrities talking about their battles openly. Nevertheless, there still more that needs to be done.


Humans need to have physical and emotional needs to have good mental health. When there is an imbalance of these needs, humans can suffer distress, such as anger, depression, psychosis, anxiety and addiction. This could strike at any time and to anyone.


Prevention is action we all need to actively take. Prevention helps to support any imbalances, so our mental health doesn’t escalate into something serious. Health and well-being activities are available to keep the body and mind healthy, for example, various social groups, yoga, meditation, breathing exercise and healthy eating. Furthermore, educating children in schools through well-being activities are helping them to learn self-awareness, empathy, techniques to calm and focus the mind, and mindful communication. In our fast paced, high pressured and multi-technology world, ITV have surveyed that anxiety and depression in children have risen by 48% since 2004. We all know, this has risen in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


There are different types of psychology treatment, such as counselling, hypnotherapy and support groups, which gets people talking. The NHS suggests that talking is the same or more effective than medication with other therapies, including music, art, drama and play helping with their expression. I consider talking whilst being creative helps individuals talk more openly.


Art is an area that can support well-being, helping to balance our body and mind. Art as a therapy (don't be confused with the clinical art therapy) can be used by people who make art for creative engagement, relaxation and pleasure. Art is a therapeutic activity.


Participating in art activities can support us to have good mental health, especially if art interests them. Through research, creating art for enjoyment can give many benefits, including unity, self-expression, intuition, and exploration with art. Additionally, findings suggest that art can relieve stress, express emotions, boost confidence and give joy.


During art classes, students often remark about how the sessions are like therapy as they talk about their worries or come to relax. A client stated that, “Art allows my mind to slow down and focus on the positive things around me.”

When I am taking part in art activities, it gives me the freedom to be creative, time to reflect, depict the beauty of nature and improve my art skills and techniques. It helps me communicate to others what I have observed and felt, as I believe art can be better at telling a story and unlocking underlying emotions, than descriptions through words.



Reference links:

Humans Givens Institute (2016) How human givens differs from other therapy approaches, https://www.hgi.org.uk/human-givens/why-human-givens-approach-therapy-different, Human Givens Institute

ITV (2019) Britain Get Talking, https://www.itv.com/britaingettalking/the-campaign.html, ITV plc

Kousoulis, A. Dr and Smith, R. (2020a) Our history and future: 70 years of the Mental Health Foundation, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/our-history-and-future-70-years-mental-health-foundation, Mental Health Foundation

Kousoulis, A. Dr. and Smith, R. (2020b) Prevention, www.mentalhealth.org.uk, Mental Health Foundation

Mindfulness4u.org (2017) Mindfulness in schools, https://mindfulness4u.org/mindfulness-in-schools/, Mindfulness4u

NHS (2018) Benefits of Talking Therapy https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/benefits-of-talking-therapy/, NHS

Sack, N. (2016) “Art as Therapy vs. Art Therapy - There’s a Difference” Baruch College, <https://blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/multimediareporting2016/?p=539> accessed on: 27th January 2021

Tan, J. (2019) “The difference between art as therapy and art psychotherapy,” Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, <https://adelphipsych.sg/the-difference-between-art-as-therapy-and-art-psychotherapy/> accessed on: 27th January 2021

Venters, Dr Nick (2018) The past, present and future of innovation in mental health, https://digital.nhs.uk/blog/transformation-blog/2018/the-past-present-and-future-of-innovation-in-mental-health, NHS





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