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The Role of Art Therapy in Mental Health & Recovery

Article submitted by Jane Upson, Freelance Writer

One in 10 Canadians have a disability that limits their daily lifestyle and ability to work. According to Disability Credit Canada, 69% of small businesses in Canada claim to have never hired an individual with a disability.  In fact, only 1 in 4 employers are aware of their workers with disabilities – putting them at a disadvantage due to their condition. As a result, those with disabilities often experience significant wage gaps, limited-time employment, and double the rate of unemployment in the country.

Art as a Therapy

When most people hear the word “therapy”, they think of medicine, treatments, and the like. However, art therapy is a proven treatment that is effective in various forms of disabilities. It utilizes the process of creativity to improve and enhance the physical, emotional, and mental health of individuals. In addition, Art therapy can help those with a disability to:

  • Manage behavior
  • Reduce symptoms of stress and depression
  • Develop interpersonal skills
  • Increase self-confidence and awareness

Art therapy provides numerous benefits for disabled individuals. Painting with rich colors and life may enable those with mental disabilities to communicate effectively without the use of words. In fact, many believe that Frida Kahlo used art as a form of therapy for her disability.

Art Relieves Stress and Depression

Activities like photography, painting, sculpting, and drawing self-portraits are relaxing hobbies that can help lower your levels of stress and leave you feeling mentally calm. Not only does art provide a distraction from your negative thoughts, you may find yourself able to communicate your feelings through paint without the use of words. This meditative-like activity eases the mound and trains you to concentrate on details in your environment.

Art Promotes Self-Esteem

Art is a skill that requires talent, practice, and humility. It helps individuals focus their energy on improving the quality of their work, thus, boosting your self-esteem. Through art, your body produces the “feel good” neurotransmitter, dopamine, helping you boost motivation, focus, drive, and concentration.

Enhances Brain Connectivity

According to studies from Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, intelligence relies on the number of connections in your brain, rather than its size. Every time you learn a new activity, your brain creates a new connection between brain cells. Creating art stimulates communication between specific areas of the brain, helping to increase resistance to stress and psychological resilience.

Indulging in art is a relaxing and rewarding way to help aid in mental health and emotional well-being. Giving a voice to unexpressive emotions, individuals can use their free time to do something productive, boost mental health, and hone their artistic skills.

Photo by:

Mike Petrucci

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