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Art and Mental Health

Updated on August 29, 2016

Art Improves Mental Health

During the past decade, many hospital mental health wards have been using visual arts as an therapy for patients. Along with support groups, art has given people a chance to express themselves on a deep emotional level. The U.S. Government is currently working to gather statistics for the general public, but to date this treatment method has been reportedly successsful. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687748/

The definitive proof is becoming more apparent with each passing year and has even been recommended to anyone experiencing common anxiety or depression related to typical life events. https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/blog/illustrating-your-recovery-the-power of-art-therapy-for-mental-health/

Fascinating Link Between Artists and Mental Illness

Research studies have shown a definitive link between mental illness and creativity. It is a question as to whether a person's mental health diagnosis acts as a pathway to creative expression.This article explains this theory in full: http://web.stanford.edu/group/cosign/Sussman.pdf

9Muses Art Center in Broward County is a program of the Mental Health Association of Southesast Florida. The center is a living example of this theory at work. 9Muses conducts a yearly report of the effectiveness of art on it's members and shows an average 88% reduction on hospitalizations and improvement on member's overall state of mind.

Some artists who have suffered from mental illness:

  • Vincent Van Gogh - Suffered from bipolar disorder
  • Michelangelo - Thought to suffer from bipolar depression
  • Paul Gaugin - Suffered from debilitating depression
  • Edvard Munch - Intense anxiety and hallucinations

Art Created by a Member of Nine Muses Art Center

Blake Dickson's Watercolor Exhibition held at Nine Muses Art Center in Broward County FL
Blake Dickson's Watercolor Exhibition held at Nine Muses Art Center in Broward County FL

Creativity Poll

What Kind of Creative Activities Do You Like to Engage In?

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Art Battles Anxiety

The Mental Health Movement and the Creative Process

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency15.7 million adults reported having a major depressive episode in the past 12 months. Of those, about one-third of adults (33.2%) did not seek professional help during the previous 12 months. http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment

The International mental health community is making great strides in finding additional treatment for mental health disorders. Stakeholder views on a recovery-oriented psychiatric rehabilitation art therapy program in a rural Australian mental health service: a qualitative description.

Public art brought to inner city communities have been a means of improving overall mental health and social interaction as well as individual expression in a group setting. However funding is often limited: Promoting well-being through creativity: how arts and public health can learn from each other.


A Clear Understanding of Mental Health and Stigma

Some very encouraging news comes from President Obama's increase in mental health funding by 500 million dollars.

He states the following: "We must continue to remove the stigma around mental illness and its treatment and make sure that these individuals and their families know they are not alone. While individuals with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, incidents of violence continue to highlight a crisis in America’s mental health system." Full article available at: ABC News

The Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida's former CEO Anita Godfrey and mental health advocates and 9Muses members explain in very clear and concise terms stigma associated with mental illness and the simple fact of mental health challenges.

Defining Mental Health Stigma

Things to Remember..

  • If you have been experiencing a mental health crisis, just remember: 15.7 million adults reported having a major depressive episode in the past 12 months. You are not alone.
  • Many great creative people throughout time have had mental health problems and there is a possible link between the two. The truth is: That's not bad company to keep.
  • Through education; stigma can be stomped out and understanding and proper treatment can begin.

Crisis Intervention Training

The Broward County Sheriff's Office has initiated CIT Training for law enforcement officers so that they may better understand and identify a mental health crisis.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office has initiated CIT Training for law enforcement officers so that they may better understand and identify a mental health crisis.

Summation

  • 15.7 million adults reported having a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past 12 months.
  • Research studies have shown a definitive link between mental illness and creativity.
  • Along with support groups, art has given people a chance to express themselves on a deep emotional level.
  • Public art brought to inner city communities have been a means of improving overall mental health and social interaction as well as offering individual expression.

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