Martha Dorn, Executive Director of The Art Therapy Project, on Art Making and Talk Therapy as Medicine, COVID-19’s Impact on Mental Health Programs, and Social Impact

“With the country in lockdown due to COVID-19, there has been an enormous increase in discussions around mental health, mindfulness and self-care. The coloring book phenomenon, while not art therapy, stems from people experiencing how using coloring books can be therapeutic in alleviating stress. The uptick in people embracing creative pastimes during this crisis, whether making art, cooking or knitting, is very encouraging as these activities help us manage our stress and improve our mood.”

Eslee, Photographer and Art Director On Work and Mental Health, Faith, and Getting to No

“I do something called devotion for my wellbeing. The equivalent to this that is most easily understood would be meditation, but meditating with the Bible, and having the source of what you’re being present with as God. I go on my Bible app and go through different plans of life stages. It usually takes me about 20 minutes and I take notes! Devotions in part help me realize that there are bigger things out there to be concerned about, and learn to make the best out of any situation with perspective.”

Part II. Microbiome and Mental Health: The Gut – Brain Axis

“eating foods with high levels of tryptophan or sweet and starchy carbohydrates boosts serotonin, the “contentment” neurotransmitter that curbs cravings, suppresses appetite, and leaves you feeling satisfied and full. Close to 60% and 90% of all your dopamine and serotonin respectively is produced in your gut, and microbes regulate levels of these mood-regulating neurotransmitter production.
Because of this gut-brain axis, neurotransmitter levels in the gut and brain mirror one another. A low level of neurotransmitters in the gut leads to constipation and indigestion, while a low level in the brain can manifest in depression. Conversely, an abundance of neurotransmitters in the gut leads to cramping and diarrhea, while an abundance in the brain can manifest in anxiety.”

Struggles in Culture Shock & Life Transition: Letters From a Student On the Little Things That Helped Her Fight Depression & Anxiety

“In my second, third, and fourth years of school, my feelings of depression took a spiral down. I began to surround myself in self-destructive habits, such as not eating enough, consuming excessive alcohol, isolating myself from other people, and not leaving my room at all. I remember during these times that every part of my life began to suffer; I began to experience a total withdrawal from academics, emotions, relationships, and physical health. I didn’t really speak to my parents about how I was doing because what I was going through could easily be seen as a huge sign of weakness in Korean culture (and appearing competent and self-assured for my parents was everything to me back then!). It felt like I had no one by my side and I had to go through this frightening and devastating ordeal alone. Upon opening up to my school advisor about my struggles (I had to because I needed to explain my absences and my poor performances at that point), I agreed to take counseling sessions. “