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Doodle & Draw: A Workshop For Emotional and Mental Wellbeing for Young People

In today's fast-paced world, mental health has become a crucial area of concern, particularly among young people. Amidst the academic pressures, social complexities, and ever-increasing digital interference, traditional therapeutic activities like drawing and painting are gaining recognition for their role in promoting emotional and mental well being. Here's a deeper look at how these artistic expressions can be invaluable tools for the mental health of children and adolescents.

Group of girls in art class
Group of girls in art class

A Safe Space for Expression

Drawing and painting provide a safe, quiet space where young people can freely express their emotions without fear of judgment. These activities serve as a non-verbal form of communication, which can be particularly beneficial for those who find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Whether it is using the bold, angry strokes of a brush or carefully shading a pencil drawing, the act of transferring feelings onto paper or canvas can be immensely cathartic.

A  Reduction in Anxiety and Stress

Engaging in art activities like drawing and painting is akin to meditative practice. It requires intense focus and often leads to a state of 'flow', where the artist becomes so absorbed in their work that their worries and stress fade away. Studies have shown that such creative engagement can lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and help individuals feel more relaxed and peaceful.

Enhanced Self-Esteem and Identity

For many young people, adolescence is a tumultuous period of self-discovery and identity formation. Art provides an avenue for exploring various aspects of one's personality and expressing unique perspectives of the world. Through their creations, young artists gain insights into their own emotions and thought processes, fostering a greater sense of self-awareness and esteem as they see their skills improve and their ideas take form.

Cognitive Function and Problem-Solving Skills

Drawing and painting aren't just beneficial for emotional health; they enhance cognitive functions as well. Engaging in art improves neural connectivity, essentially building a stronger brain. Artistic activities demand problem-solving skills as one determines how best to bring a concept to life or how to mix the perfect hue. This kind of visual and spatial reasoning builds academic and practical skills that are valuable in everyday decision-making.

Psychological Resilience

Creating art often involves dealing with frustration and mistakes. A drawing might not turn out as planned, or a paint color might mix differently than anticipated. Young people learn to manage their expectations and to cope with setbacks through these experiences. The ability to persevere through such challenges builds resilience, helping them cope better with stressors in other areas of their lives.

A Medium for Therapy

Art therapy has been officially recognized and used as a therapeutic approach in mental health treatment. It involves using art as a tool to help people explore and express their emotions, and is particularly effective with children and teenagers who might not have the verbal skills to express complex emotions. In art therapy sessions, a trained therapist encourages the young person to delve into abstract drawing or creative self-portraits, using the artworks as a base for discussing underlying thoughts or feelings.

Social Connection and Empathy

When young people engage in group art projects or share their artworks with family and friends, they open avenues for empathy and social connection. Art can serve as a common ground for discussing feelings and experiences, promoting deeper connections and understanding among peers and adults.

In conclusion, integrating activities like drawing and painting into the lives of young people provides not just a hobby, but a powerful tool for emotional and mental development. Schools, communities, and parents should encourage these artistic outlets, providing the resources and space needed for expression. In doing so, they equip young people with creative tools to navigate the complex landscape of their emotions, enhancing both their well-being and their resilience in the face of life’s challenges.



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