Art and the Pandemic: Why It’s Good For Your Mental Health

Stress is often expressed and reflected through statements such as “I feel tense”, “I’m worried,” or “I’m restless”; It manifests itself physically in the body from acne breakouts and psoriasis (red, itchy, scaly patches) to neck and chest pain. When you feel stressed, this immediately arouses the brain which then triggers hyperactivity in the amygdala, which subsequently triggers a stress response in your entire being.

Martha Dorn, Executive Director of The Art Therapy Project, on Art Making and Talk Therapy as Medicine

“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.”

Vanessa Smith, Urban Planner, on Using Civic Art as to Drive Change and Challenge Mental Health Stereotypes

“One of the biggest challenges I see is how can we promote wellness alongside policies, programs, and design that address climate change? The effects of climate change and disaster response affect people differently, and communities that have been historically marginalized will feel the effects of climate change more dramatically.
I think about a scene in the movie Parasite during a heavy rain storm. One family’s home is flooded, they lose their possessions and have to spend the night in a gym with hundreds of other people affected by the storm. Another family is able to enjoy watching the storm in spacious comfort on higher ground. How does the trauma of dealing with the rain, loss of your home, and the uncertainty of tomorrow burden people? How do our urban systems, design and policies affect our wellbeing and support (or hinder) us?
hinking about the first family’s experience we could incorporate a lens of mental health into: new policy around rapid response after a disaster, retrofitting public infrastructure and housing, flood mitigation, urban design, and new types of place-based services and programs we can develop in and with our communities.”

Laetitia Rouget on Upcycling Material for Art, Making a Career Shift, and Anxiety

“I couldn’t see myself working as a print designer all my life and I was always thinking to do my own thing one day, but I never had the courage until I met my husband who really pushed me to take risks. I was tired of producing hundreds of designs every month– it was always the same and I wanted to work on a product that had more meaning to me and could properly feed my creative mind. I then started to explore ceramics deeply and ended up producing my first collection along with opening my first solo show last September in London. I was so happy and proud of how much I learned in a single year on my own and hopefully this is only the beginning.”