Art Therapy: The Healing Powers of Art for Mental Health

In today’s society, studies show that 1 in 4 of us will experience some form of mental health issue within a year’s timescale.

With the most common forms here in the UK being anxiety & depression, there are also many other forms such; as eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), bipolar disorder, phobia’s, schizophrenia to name a few.

Causes of mental health problems

The main causes known are issues with job’s, benefit and money-related factors while traumatic experiences can also trigger a change in personality and lifestyle, it is also thought that a percentage of people can genetically inherit mental health disorders.

Don’t be afraid to get some help

Not everyone has sought help or is aware that they may have an underlying problem, so it is important to understand the traits and tell-tail signs so you can seek help and advice.

Even with the surprisingly high numbers of people facing these health issues, it’s alarming to find that 9 out of 10 people will experience discrimination because of their mental health.  This is because a vast majority of people do not understand the root causes, and expect people to just ‘get on’ with things, which is easier said than done as people tolerate things differently, one can deal with certain situations, another cannot and this is where the issues stem from when people expect you to act in a certain manner.

With the number of people living with mental health disorders at an all-time high, though we live in an age where there is plenty of medication to help an individual cope, it has also been researched and proven that taking up art and creative activities can help a person significantly and reduce the stresses of living with mental health issues.

Using art to tackle mental health issues

Taking on a creative project is a therapeutic way to calm and relax the mind, creating a peaceful environment to escape from the everyday scenarios that can often weigh us down.  Expressing how we feel is sometimes an impossible task for some individuals, but with art, you are able to create and release those feelings through your work.

As the recognition of the benefits of art and how it helps people with mental health issues grows, there are numerous facilities that have now been put in place on a wide scale across the UK, where you can go and participate in the creative arts and also online organisations that you can turn to for help and advice.

Acknowledging your problem and getting involved with the services that are available to you is a great way to begin socializing with people who understand you.  Often, being in the company of people who do understand means that you are not judged, there are people there to help.

There is a great sense of satisfaction when you become creative as you are in control of whatever it is that you are creating. Working with colors is good for your mood and reflects the emotions that you may be feeling, allowing you to explore your inner thoughts through a visual concept.  You become involved in a self-healing process as you begin to turn negative energy into something positive.  Being productive and challenging yourself is a huge part of the balance that we need in our daily lives and art is a great way to uphold that productivity.

Regularly practicing art builds your individual confidence as well as you learning new creative skills along the way.  Creating your own space to work from or finding somewhere local for you to go to take time out will help you take some positive steps forward.

Helpful organisations

Here are some links to some of the organizations you can get in touch with:

Have a read through some of the testimonials people have left on how creative arts have helped them turn their lives around.  These are just a few examples, but a quick search on the internet should find organizations closer to you to make inquiries.

Here is a video of a former patient from the Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, as the institution opens a public exhibition of the artwork gathered over the years.

Living with a mental illness is not easy, but there is help available, and ways in which to deal with mental health concerns.  If you know of any organizations within your area that you think could be beneficial to others, please add these in the comment box below. If you are an artist you can submit your work here.

Richard Hammond

I am the founder of 9Mousai and am deeply interested in creativity and what inspires it. My main passions are writing, film and music but I have huge respect for all the arts. I'm also an animal lover and have a little cat called Winston and enjoy the occasional whiskey or two...

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