The Positive Effects of an Art Education on Emotional and Mental Health
The Positive Effects of an Art Education on Emotional and Mental Health
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, August 01, 2018 by Andilynn Feddeler

Although many educators and parents already know about some of the more tangible benefits of art education, the positive effects of creative expression on emotional and mental health are often underestimated. Arts activities in schools and at home can help foster cognitive development as well as provide outlets for children to express how they feel and develop their self identities. There are many different ways to introduce the arts to students, and each concentration has its own benefits on kids’ emotional development and mental health:

  • Music education has been known to improve coordination, pattern recognition, and auditory skills, but can also be extremely influential in developing a student’s self-confidence, sense of achievement, imagination, and engagement. Students may find that attaching music to emotions can help them express themselves in a way that words alone may not be able to.

  • Writing is a key part of any school’s curriculum, but the creative and emotional aspects of it are sometimes downplayed or overshadowed by rubrics and requirements. Expressing oneself on paper not only improves language development and understanding, but also eases the anxieties a student may face in his or her personal life. Being able to write freely and expressively is crucial in a kid’s ability to cope with his or her emotions and experiences.

  • Theatre may not be the best fit for every kid, but at the base level it is a great way to enhance communication skills and empathy in students. Along with improving vocal skills and reading comprehension, studying and performing drama can help kids understand and relate to others.

  • Drawing and painting have been found to improve memory, coordination, and problem-solving skills in students, but can also provide an emotional outlet and stress relief. Making art can help some people better understand their mental health without getting overwhelmed by the feelings of vulnerability that often come with acknowledging inner struggles.

Recently, school districts nationwide have been losing funding for arts programs and initiatives, which can have an extremely negative impact on children. It’s important to keep in mind how beneficial an arts education can be for students—in cognitive development as well as social-emotional learning—and what they are losing when art no longer seems important enough to keep around. However, there are many ways to help to keep creative expression in lessons plans and curricula. In addition, cultivating arts in the home can be as simple as putting on music while doing chores or allowing kids free time to craft and create as they please.