Art and other works of creativity are outlets for expression with a large emotional component. Art holds a space for heavy emotion and helps communicate to people how universal these emotions are. People can interpret artwork by relating to the artist. And, they can interpret it by communicating the emotions a piece evokes in them. The point is, a piece of art is a string connecting two people to the vulnerability of the human experience.
So what is the relationship between mental health and art? How are the two linked, and how is it therapeutic?
The discussion of mental health and its link to art has been a question for years. Research points to the fact that there is a link between psychiatric disorders and art. Through their work, artists express themselves and their struggles.
Terry A. Rustin wrote, “There have been a number of psychiatric patients with no previous art training who produced artwork that many consider museum-worthy,” in a research paper published to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The research article “The Connection Between Mental Illness and Creativity”, touches on the fact that, “Mental illnesses have a large impact on the sufferer’s creativity and how they express themselves.” Some artists like Edvard Munch, found that mental illness was essential to his own work. Art helps us understand more about mental health and how it makes the artist feel.
Through Art Ending the Stigma
Although there is a stigma of mental illness in the artist community, this allows for discussion pertaining to the stigma surrounding mental health in general. The field holds a balance between bringing awareness to mental health issues while also breaking the stigma about the weakness of mental illness.
Champions of Science: The Art of Ending Stigma is just one project that serves to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. Specifically, how art in itself brings awareness to how multiple forms communicate the experiences of different mental illnesses.
“To help people and communities all over the world end stigma and discrimination related to medical conditions where stigma prevents people from seeking the attention, support, and care required to manage their condition.”Champions of Science: The Art of Ending Stigma
Art therapy in itself is a modality that allows people to visually express what they are going through and communicate that with professionals. Therapists then work through the artwork with their clients and help them identify issues and cope. It also, quite literally, paints a picture of what the person is going through that can then be used as a reference point during therapy.
An outlet for creative exploration, artwork provides an open door for people to talk about mental illness. They can design their experience in their own way with their bare hands. The artwork gives people power over their struggles and the ability to paint their own narrative despite the limitations these struggles impose on them. By understanding artwork and creating our own, artists challenge the stigma of mental health.