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  • Writer's pictureGaye Daniels

How Art Creativity and Imagination can help with Mental Health

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Having just completed an intensive two-day Mental Health First Aider Course, I'm proud to say I'm now a qualified Mental Health First aider. How did I get to do this remarkable course and why?

To answer that question, I need to go back a couple of years to when I started doing art events as an extension to my work. Before this I was an exhibiting artist.

I’ve always enjoyed helping people and the more I thought about exactly what I do, the more I realised how people could benefit from painting and drawing.

Just before the start of Lockdown I noticed the negativity on social media and how worried people were about Covid.

For those who know me, know I am a super positive person and I wanted to do my bit to cheer up people. I started by showing how art could be used with home schooling ie maths, science and writing stories.

I was surprised by the number of people who thanked me and also for brightening their day with a ‘happy painting’.

I took this a stage further by giving free painting sessions every day online during the first Lockdown.

Then I was asked to do an adult birthday party. I knew they’d enjoyed it and I’m delighted that are still talking about it two years on.

This has progressed now to Hen/Stag do’s, Teambuilding, Girls’ Nights Out, more birthday parties and Christmas parties. Painting or Drawing or Nude drawing (the model not you). Whatever you want, I will gear an event around you.

The arts, creativity and the imagination are agents of wellness: they help keep the individual resilient, aid recovery and foster a flourishing society. As a supplement to medicine and care, the arts can reduce stress and increase social engagement as well as provide opportunities for self-expression.

I’m passionate about what I do and more and more I started posting online and talking about the positive effects of art on one’s mental health, the more is/was my quest for knowledge.

Mental health issues are common especially anxiety, depression and those associated with misuse of alcohol and other drugs. Many people are not well informed about mental health and many people don’t get adequate treatment. Art, whether doing it or observing it, reduces the stress hormone cortisol. It also releases the feel-good hormone, endorphins which helps you combat stress and pain by letting you enjoy a sense of fulfilment. Painting and drawing can help those who are stressed, lack confidence plus many more.

Access to art opportunities and participation in art can dramatically improve health

outcomes and well-being, counter inequalities and increase social engagement. The

evidence suggests that engagement with art can improve a person's physical and mental

health and provide opportunities for people to engage with each other and their own creativity, directly improving their sense of well-being.

Because of my quest to help people, understand mental illness and my passion for art, I needed to learn more.

The course has shown me how to preserve life where a person may be at risk of harm to themselves or others, provide help to prevent the mental health issue from becoming more serious, promote recovery of good mental health and provide comfort to a person with a mental health issue.

The course has shown me how to spot early signs of a mental health issue and how to provide initial help and to guide a person towards appropriate treatment and other sources of supportive help.

I also want to raise awareness of mental health issues in the community plus reduce the stigma and discrimination.

So, in my passion to share art with everyone, I now find myself on a path I could never have imagined.

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