top of page

Mental Health and Art



A Positive Impact 

Art can help improve mood and allow us to express ourselves. Studies have found that people who may be struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness may find a creative outlet to be beneficial. Even just spending 20 minutes of drawing and being creative can help reduce cortisol levels (Loeuy, 2022). Art can also encompass subjects such as dance, music, and film which also make a positive impact on our mental health. Art is also a great way to connect with other people. Joining art programs and sharing your hobby can allow one to feel connected to a community of like-minded individuals. Art is also approachable and accessible to anyone, making it easy for anyone to start being creative. Art can help people express themselves without needing to find words to do so. It is sometimes difficult and overwhelming to connect with our emotions. When it comes to art, you don't need to hold back, you can make anything you would like!

 1. Loeuy Jayde Katauna (2022) Art for self-care and mental health. The Whole U. University of Washington.

Art Supplies_edited.jpg

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a tool therapists use to help people improve their mental well being. Art therapy uses the creative process with applied psychological theories to help improve the lives of people and communities. Some of the benefits of receiving art therapy are improved self-esteem, cognition, social skills, and self-awareness as well as reduced distress and helping people gain insight. True art therapy can only be provided by licensed therapists and the term "art therapy" is being misused when practiced without professional care. Creating art in itself is therapeutic and calming but art therapists have special mental health training that allows them to help guide people through the art-making process where the clients may make emotional breakthroughs. If you are interested in seeking an art therapist the American Art Therapy Association has a page on their website where you're able to find therapists located near you: 
2. American Art Therapy Association:Home (2023). American Art Therapy Association.

 Art and Therapy

Arts and Crafts
Child Therapy_edited.jpg

Ways to Be Creative and Make Art 

  • Keep a sketchbook around. Whenever you get a creative itch, simply start drawing. A sketchbook can help remind you to stay creative and to take time for your hobbies in your busy day. 

  • Explore out of your comfort zone. Studies show that inspiring “awe” can help quiet negative self-talk and overall improve our mood (Keltner, 2023, as cited in Reese, 2023). Trying something new like messing with clay or paper mache can help inspire awe. 

  • You don't need to spend a penny. Making art out of recyclables like cardboard or cans is a great way to not only recycle but you will also have a unique piece of art. Repainting old jars to make planters or candle holders, making a collage out of magazine clipping and a birdfeeder out of water bottles are a few project ideas.  

  • DIY around your room. Making your space custom to your liking and interests can help make your space more inviting and also improve your mood seeing all the projects you have done. You gain a sense of accomplishment once you complete a DIY that can fill you with joy. Try painting a small mirror and hanging it up, frame up some of your favorite art pieces to make a gallery wall or you can paint a custom mural on your walls.  

  • Being mindful of the art you're creating. This can make the creative process a lot more peaceful. Try playing some music, make yourself a cup of tea, or light some nice-smelling candles to make your space more calming.                                                 3. Reese, Hope. (2023) “How a Bit of Awe Can Improve Your Health.” The New York Times,

DIY Craft_edited.jpg

Resources for Getting Started


If you're interested in getting started but feel like you don’t have the skills to start making the art you want to make, there are a lot of learning tools and resources to help get you started! 

  • Talk to art teachers. If you're in high school or college and want to work on being more creative but don’t have time to take art classes, I recommend going to an art teacher's office hours and seeing if they have any resources or advice for you. More likely than not, they would be more than happy to help you out.

  • Join an art club. Being surrounded by artists allows you to speak with fellow artists and learn from them. An art club also helps to give you access to a community of people who are also creatives and find joy in making art. Art clubs also offer art-related activities that you can take part in.

  • Community center art classes. Many of these community centers offer classes year-round and some community centers, like Sunnyvale's, even offer scholarships for children. These classes help people explore different art mediums and are a great way to pick up a new hobby. Check your local community center to see if they offer any art classes you would be interested in joining. 

  • YouTube. It has thousands of videos of any art medium you can think of. It is accessible and you can find specific help for whatever you're looking for.  YouTube also has videos about art projects that are relaxing and stress-free. 

  • Start with pencil and paper. If art still seems daunting, I recommend starting simple. No need for anything fancy, a pencil and a sheet of paper can help limit all the art medium options that can be overwhelming. No need to rush into anything you don't feel comfortable doing especially if you're starting with the hope of finding some stress relief. With time, confidence, and skill moving on to other projects will come naturally.

Art Gallery Open Space _edited.jpg

How to Share Your Masterpieces

  • Creating a social media art account. With time you will grow but social media does take patience. Good lighting and a phone camera are all you need to start taking photos of your art. Don't pressure yourself to try to meet a certain number of posts or followers. Enjoy the journey and art you're making and the recognition will come.

  • Look into joining a local gallery. Most of the time galleries will cost money to join and have your art up for sale. This option is not for everyone and there are many other ways of finding your place in the art world. However, this is an option for those who like working on making art but not the selling of the art as the gallery handles a lot of that side of the creative process. I recommend looking more into how your local gallery is set up and what they expect from the artists they work with.

  • Work with a local cafe to hang and sell your art. Some local cafes are happy to offer space on the wall for artists and most of the time free of charge; the cafe just likes having something pretty on the wall. This is a great alternative to galleries. The best way to reach a cafe is to contact them via email or go in person and see if you can find someone who can give you permission  

  • Apply to art contests. There are many art contests around for different age ranges with different themes. I recommend applying as a way of getting a feeling of having your out be out in the world and possibly bring you some recognition when you win. To Be Honest has its own art contest that you can check out.

  • Making gifts. If you just want to make art and share your passion with your family and friends, that is an amazing way to not only make yourself feel good but others as well!

bottom of page