Utilising Arts & Crafts for Mental Health

Whilst the number of different therapies for mental health problems is always growing, there is still an outcry for more holistic therapies. Over the past few years mass studies have shown that therapies including arts, dance, music and drama have been hugely beneficial in treating mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD and anorexia. Group art sessions have also been found to help improve levels of feeling connected and increase social interactions between patients.
There is now a push to promote more arts and craft activities within therapeutic sessions.

Even though the use of arts and crafts as a recognised form of therapy is relatively new, the use of crafts within occupational therapy has been around since the late 19th century. Craft activities such as basketry, pottery and woodwork were used to help soldiers with anxiety and shell shock, more commonly known now as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The use of crafts were found to work well as a diversional therapy as it took the soldiers minds off of injuries and negative thoughts, it also acted as a skills development workshop by helping the soldiers learn a new skill set that could help them with re-entering civilian life.

Today, a common form of craft that is used within mental health workshops, is knitting and crochet. Recently knitting was introduced to patients hospitalised with anorexia nervosa, it was found that the patients who began to knit felt a reduction in anxious feelings and negative feelings towards food. Knitting is also found to;

  • Provide relaxation.
  • Relief from stress.
  • Instil patients with a sense of accomplishment.
  • Reduce feelings of anxiety.
  • Distance patient from negative thoughts.
  • Enhance feelings of confidence.
  • Improve cognitive abilities.
  • Increase social skills and interactions.

Visual Art therapies are also becoming common practice to complement the more traditional mental health treatments. Specially trained art therapists can tailor each session and activity to directly benefit the patient. The visual arts can be very beneficial in providing a release for anyone suffering from mental health problems as they can express how they are feeling without using words. Visual Art therapies are found to;

  • Manage behaviours and outbursts.
  • Help process feelings.
  • Reduce levels of stress and anxiety.
  • Increase self-esteem.
  • Aid with self-discovery by helping acknowledge feelings in the subconscious.
  • Letting go of negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Instilling pride and confidence.
  • Aiding social connections.
  • Building trust.

Studies also show that creating art stimulates the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that is released in the brain that makes us feel happy. Therefore, the use of art in mental health treatments is very effective.

At Northern Healthcare we recognise the importance of utilising different activities as part of a structured therapeutic programme. Arts and crafts plays an important part in our occupational therapy led programmes and has both individuals benefits and also provides group based social activities. For more information on what we have to offer, click here of contact one of our experts today at [email protected]

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