The Mental Health Benefits of Art

The Mental Health Benefits of Art

Photography by Peter Merts.

Art programs in prisons like Art for Redemption® help to rehabilitate inmates and reduce the recidivism rate. As we learn about these statistics, it’s important to ask ourselves, why do art programs work so well as a prison rehabilitation program? It turns out that art — painting, drawing, sculpting, and other forms — has a long list of mental health benefits. When we help people solve their problems from the inside out with activities like art, they can begin to heal the wounds that may have led them to prison in the first place.  In today’s blog post, we are going to discuss some of the many mental health benefits that can be a result of painting, drawing, and creating works of art. Continue reading to learn more, and if you have a loved one in prison who enjoys art, help them submit their artwork for our Art for Redemption® Call for Art Learn more about Art for Redemption®, our future, and how we are helping inmates across America with our art rehabilitation program.  The Mental Health Benefits of Art

Art Helps to Relieve Stress

The process of creating something artistic helps to relieve stress. This can be a great help for those who suffer from depression or anxiety. During painting, drawing, or another artistic activity, your brain focuses all it’s attention on the details of your creation and allows you to momentarily let go and escape from stress. 

Art Provides an Emotional Outlet

Art provides a healthy emotional outlet for anger, stress, sadness, anxiety, and other emotions that can be difficult to control and work through. It also provides a way for people to work through situations that they may not have been able to talk about or put into words. When you have an outlet for your emotions, you are less likely to allow them to control your actions. 

Art Boosts Self-Esteem

Painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, or any type of art can help boost your self-esteem. Creating something, whether it is a masterpiece or not, makes us feel good about ourselves. Finishing an art project actually results in a dopamine boost, which makes us happy and increases our drive, focus, and concentration. 

Art Encourages Creative Thinking

One of the reasons that art is so rewarding is because there is no right answer. You can create something in your own style and express yourself in any way that feels right to you. Because of this, it encourages people to think of solutions to problems in a way that they normally wouldn’t. The creative thinking that is used during art projects transfers over into everyday life and enhances problem solving skills. 

Art Enhances Cognitive Abilities

When you engage in art, your brain creates new connections between brain cells called synapses. This means that every time you paint or draw a picture, there are new connections being created in various parts of your brain. This stimulates your brain and improves your cognitive abilities. 

Art Gives a Sense of Purpose

As an inmate, it can be easy to lose your sense of purpose and self-worth. When inmates are allowed to engage in an activity that they enjoy, they can begin to find themselves and their sense of purpose again. Art reduces the stresses of everyday life in prison, and allows inmates to think creatively and create something that is unique to them. 

Art Provides a Sense of Accomplishment 

If you’ve ever painted a picture or done any type or art project then you remember the feeling you get when you finish. Whether or not the picture is perfect, it’s something that you created from nothing. This is partially due to the release of the feel good chemical, dopamine. Creating art may allow an inmate to feel a sense of accomplishment that they have not in some time. 

Join Our Call for Art

We hope that after reading our blog post, you have a better understanding of why prison art rehabilitation programs are so successful. If you or a loved one is in prison and enjoy creating art, consider joining our Call for Art. We are collecting art from inmates in anticipation of the public launch later this year of our online marketplace for art created by inmates. Learn more about Art for Redemption®, our future, and how you can help with our Call for Art.  
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I agree with what you said about how art provides a healthy emotional outlet where you can let out all your anger, stress, sadness, anxiety and other feelings that can be difficult to control. I’m a fine arts university student, and I was thinking of taking an academic break this semester to refresh my passion for art and relieve my stress. I might just go to Australia and join an art tour to get inspired again.

Anna Collins

I loved that you mentioned that art boosts self-esteem. I’d really like to try out more art. I’ll have to buy some art supplies this week for sure.

Eve Mitchell

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