‘The medical profession has come a long way in recognizing the healing benefits of art. My hope is that someday the arts will be considered as significant in everyone’s lives as breathing fresh air, eating clean foods, and performing physical exercise.’
Art for Wellbeing: The Evidence Base
By Dani Chak Educator
Sandra Raponi-Saunders Clinical Psychologist
Part l: The Impact of Art on Adult Health and Wellbeing
‘Art for Wellbeing’ is a series of online visual arts experiences that are calming, enjoyable, exploratory, sensory, actively engaging and expressive. Art Friends has designed these experiences based on the evidence that creativity is beneficial for your health and wellbeing. The focus is on the creative process and the ‘self’ rather than an end product. The program is for all people of all ages in various physical and psychological states.
Everyone is busy; sometimes too busy to look at the startling statistics on mental health and wellbeing. In Australia, over 75% of mental health problems occur before the age of 25, yet only 31% of young women and 13% of young men with mental health problems seek professional help. One in six Australians is currently experiencing depression or anxiety or both. A third of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders experience high to very high levels of psychological distress (i.e., feeling depressed and anxious most of the time), and the migrant population also report that they suffer poor mental health (Beyond Blue 2021). Moreover, the recent pandemic has led to increases in mental health problems throughout the world (WHO 2020) and, although the Australian economy is bouncing back, at present 24% of the population say they feel mental distress (which is the same as psychological distress). Just 45% of young people say they are coping well, compared to 81% when they were asked to think back to how they were coping in January 2020 (UNICEF 2020). It is estimated that the mental health of one in five Australian children has been impacted by the pandemic (Children’s Health Qld 2020). We cannot assume to know how adults and children who are affected by mental illness and/or changes in circumstances might be feeling, but we can offer some support and relief through art.
Clinical and pharmacological interventions are known treatments for improving mental health and wellbeing issues. However, there is a growing interest in another type of intervention – creative intervention. It is by no means a replacement for biomedical treatments but rather an adjunct to existing services. The efficacy of art therapy with a trained therapist has long been established, but here we are talking about engaging in ordinary arts and crafts activities for pleasure and for their therapeutic value. Another way to think of it is creativity-as-therapy. A growing body of evidence supports creativity, exercise and socialization as effective interventions for health and wellbeing, and there is even a term for it – ‘social prescribing’ (Woodley 2020 & Zurynski 2021).
Dr. Pippa Burns, medical researcher at the University of Wollongong, surveyed 8,000 crocheters worldwide to examine the effects of crocheting on wellbeing. She found that 89.5% of respondents reported that their craft made them feel calmer, while 82% felt happier. In short, Crocheting is good for your mood which is a determinant of your mental health and wellbeing (Burns 2020). Crocheting is not for everyone, choose something that interests you. You do not have to be unwell to reap the benefits of art engagement. You can self-prescribe art-as-therapy for self-care.
In the U.K. and Germany social prescribing has become part of the health and wellbeing toolbox for doctors to help patients improve their health and wellbeing status (The Health Foundation U.K.). Social prescribing is not confined to creative activity; social and physical activities are also included. In Australia, social prescribing has been endorsed by peak bodies, such as, VicHealth, ICare NSW, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Consumers’ Health Forum of Australia. The Black Dog Institute has embraced the concept and is currently working in partnership with the Art Gallery of NSW to deliver ‘an art on prescription’ program (Black Dog Institute 2021).
Neuroscience, also known as brain science, draws on a range of disciplines: psychology, neurology, biology and physiology to inform us on the complex human brain. A large body of international research studies in the area of neuroscience provides compelling evidence on the health benefits of engaging in the arts, and there are some studies that focus specifically on the visual arts. Art Friends went in search of the evidence that the arts, and more specifically the visual arts, are health-enhancing and good for wellbeing.
What Do We Mean by Wellbeing, the Arts and Visual Arts?
‘Wellbeing’ is an holistic term that incorporates the different dimensions of a person’s state:
- Psychological (e.g., enhanced self-efficacy, coping and emotional regulation as opposed to depressed and/or anxiety).
- Physiological (e.g., lower stress hormone response, enhanced immune function and higher cardiovascular reactivity as opposed to high stress hormone response, poor immune function lethargic etc.).
- Social (e.g., reduced loneliness and isolation, enhanced social support and social behaviours as opposed to loneliness, isolation etc.).
- Behavioural (e.g., increased exercise, adoption of health behaviours, skills development as opposed to poor eating habit, poor self-care etc.) (WHO 2019).
Wellbeing is dependent on a person’s resources and responses to the environment. A good analogy is to imagine a seesaw with a person’s coping ability at one end and a problem at the other end. When the person has the resources to meet a challenge, the see-saw is balanced, but when the challenge outweighs their resources, the see-saw tips to one side and may affect their wellbeing by causing a stress response, anxiety, etc (Dodge 2012).
What do we mean by the arts? The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided a broad definition of the arts which reflects its growth and ubiquity: performing arts (music, dance, singing, theatre, film); visual arts (crafts, design, painting, photography); literature (writing, reading, attending literary festivals); culture (going to museums, galleries, concerts, the theatre); and online arts (animations, digital arts, etc.) (WHO 2019).
Visual arts may be described as ‘creative art whose products are to be appreciated by sight, such as, painting, sculpture, and film-making’ (Oxford Languages). The visual arts are in essence aesthetic engagements. They activate our senses and allows us to meet our sensory needs. They engage the imagination and evokes emotions. they also provide cognitive stimulation and social interaction (WHO2019).
Arts Friends is interested in the expressive dimension of the visual arts i.e., the use of media such as, paint, oil pastels, food dyes to express how we feel. Colour, line, pattern, shape and texture are the elements of art – the building blocks which enable a person to express themselves visually. The elements are combined to create a language made of symbols and metaphors that is a unique communication from within (Wright 2012). Art friends are interested the outcomes of people’s psychological, physical, social and behavioural responses to expressive aesthetic engagement.
The World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) released the most comprehensive report to date on the evidence base for the arts as a health and wellbeing intervention. The report, ‘What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing?’ maps the global academic literature, referencing over 900 publications, including 200 reviews covering over 3,000 further studies. The evidence was clear – the arts can improve physical health and mental wellbeing, and it may be cost effective in reducing the need for biomedical intervention (WHO 2019).
The report looked at the use of the arts in three areas: to support social cohesion, to improve wellbeing and to reduce physical decline in older age. Listening to music or making art have been found to reduce the following side effects of cancer treatment: drowsiness, lack of appetite, shortness of breath and nausea. Arts activities in hospital settings, including music, crafts and clowning, have been found to reduce anxiety, pain and blood pressure, particularly for children but also for their parents. The use of the arts to manage or treat mental illness (e.g., depression and anxiety) in children and young people was found to be effective as was the use of the arts to prevent mental illness (e.g., depression and anxiety) in adults. Dance has been found repeatedly to provide improvements in motor skills for people with Parkinson Disease. In short, WHO found that arts engagement can impact on social outcomes, youth development and the prevention of mental and physical illness, and social prescribing can impact on all three areas (WHO 2019). WHO urges countries around the world to embrace the arts and develop policies and practices that will make provisions for people to access the arts to improve and maintain their physical health and mental wellbeing.
In another landmark evidence base review published by VicHealth entitled ‘The Arts and Creative Industries in Health Promotion’, researchers examined the best studies from around the world to find out how the arts impact health and wellbeing, what approaches have been successful and what approaches identified could be implemented by local councils and other stakeholders to promote health and wellbeing. The researchers concluded that the arts can have a positive impact on healthy eating, physical activity, mental wellbeing, and social health, as well as on preventing tobacco use and harm from alcohol (VicHealth). Some of the case studies also showed that art may be used as a vehicle for change.
Adult Case Studies
Arts-for-leisure as a therapeutic tool for sustaining and improving our sense of wellbeing is supported by an award-winning study by researchers at the University of Western Australia. The 2016 study tracked over 700 participants and was the first international study to quantify the relationship between mental wellbeing and arts engagement in the general population. The survey found that members of the public who engaged in recreational arts for approximately two hours a week reported significantly better mental wellbeing than their peers who participated less than two hours or not at all (Davies, Knuimanand & Rosenberg 2016). Dr. Christina Davies added that “People need a range of easy enjoyable options they can use to stay well” and “Arts engagement increases confidence, self-esteem and reduced stress and social isolation” (Australian Arts Review 2016).
A 2020 U.K. survey of over 23,00 members of the general population found that arts engagement enhances positive mental health and life satisfaction, suggesting that arts engagement may act as protector against mental distress. The researchers suggest that arts engagement should be studied further as a possible public health strategy (Wang, Mak & Fancourt 2020).
In 2011, 40 American college undergraduates participated in a research study that looked at the effects of art on short-term mood repair. The study also sought to determine the difference between drawing and writing as strategies to regulate mood. The researchers were interested in the question of what was more effective for regulating emotions – the use of art as a coping mechanism or as a distraction. Participants were shown a very confronting documentary that negatively altered their mood. The results revealed that mood was significantly improved using drawing compared to writing, and art was more effective for use as a distraction than as a venting method (Drake, Coleman & Winner 2011).
Another study showed that spending time on creative goals during the day is associated with higher activated positive affect on that day. (‘Affect’ may be described as a person’s noticeable expression of emotions in facial expression, choice of language, tone of voice etc. Positive affect includes cheerfulness, enthusiasm, energy, and negative affect includes sadness, fear, distress). The study called on 658 young adults to record their creative activities, affect and flourishing. Participants felt higher activated positive affect and flourishing following days when they reported more creativity activity than usual. This shows that creative activity can foster flourishing and affective wellbeing in adults (Conner, DeYoung, Silvia 2016). In general terms, flourishing can be described as ‘finding fulfillment in our lives, accomplishing meaningful and worthwhile tasks, and connecting with others at a deeper level – in essence living the ‘good life’ (Seligman 2011). To flourish one must have an optimal sense of wellbeing.
People with Health Issues
As early as 2010, experts were informing governments about the efficacy of the arts in enhancing health and wellbeing. A comprehensive U.S. review of the literature on the relationship between engagement with the arts and health outcomes found evidence that the arts improved health status and should be considered as a tool for healing. For example, arts-in-medicine was used to help cancer patients with positive results. However, while the study recommended the arts as a strategy to improve public health, the specifics of how these interventions enhanced health were not always clear (Stuckey and Noble 2010). In the decade since this review much more evidence has been found to support arts as a healing medium.
In a study of women with cancer who engaged regularly in art-for-leisure found that art making supported their subjective well-being in several ways, (‘subject wellbeing’ refers to how people experience and evaluate their lives). The participants described a range of difficulties associated with cancer, such as, fear for the future, pain, sleeplessness, role loss, activity restriction, reduced self-confidence, and altered social relationships. They described their art-making activities as helpful in four different ways. Art making allowed them to focus outwardly on positive experiences and relieved them of their internal preoccupation with their illness. Art making enhanced self-worth and identity as it provided opportunity for them to demonstrate continuity and achievement despite the challenges they faced. It also allowed participants to maintain a social identity that was not completely hijacked by cancer. For a minority, art enabled symbolic expression of feeling, especially during chemotherapy (Reynolds & Lim).
One in five people in developed countries suffer from chronic pain and two in five in less developed countries. There is a major impact of chronic pain on the individual’s ability to engage in meaningful activities, as well as associated effects on mood and the high risk of suicide. A Canadian study explored the experience of a group of people living with chronic pain who were able to continue to create art in the face of pain. They talked about loss of role, income, concentration, confidence, sleep, mood, joy, hope and identity. Many wrote of the loneliness and the social isolation caused by pain, but also about how “creative endeavors (art, music, writing) can change your outlook and make you feel less isolated”. Several people spoke of art as a form of distraction from the pain. One artist wrote of how the experience of pain could change or inform her art and others spoke of the transforming of the noxious experience of pain into something positive in their art. Several participants described that creating art while in pain can lead to a sense of fulfillment, as well as a route to connection with others. Some explained how through art making their had gain acceptance and control of their pain. Living with pain had eroded their self-worth and identity, but through their art they were reestablishing a sense of worth and an identity.
For these Canadians living with chronic pain, the pain had also brought about growth and new ways of seeing the world and doing something good in the face of adversity had brough new meaning to their lives. In short, arts engagement was transformative for these people living with chronic pain. Through art they were able to overcome adversity, express their resilience and find new meaning to life (Lynch, Sloane. Sinclair & Bassett 2013). Famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, found a similar path during her years of chronic pain. She painted many self-portraits while in bed or in a wheelchair, surrounding her image with beauty, colour and Mexican motifs.
Failing memory worries us all as we grow older, however, it has been found that art participation keeps your brain healthy by keeping neuro-chemical reactions working efficiently. Artist Guy Warren, who is still painting and exhibiting at the age of 100, declared recently that he only feels like a forty-year-old. According to studies by internationally renowned pioneer of neuron regeneration research Dr Lawrence Katz, mental decline is primarily attributed to the reduced or breakdown communication between brain cells, not from the death of brain cells themselves. Working on art is part of ‘neurobics’, a term created by Dr. Katz to refer to brain exercises that utilize your senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell – in non-routine ways. Sensory exploration is very much part of the aesthetic experience and Art Friends will endeavour to use the human senses as much as possible in the delivery of its programs. The loss of communication between brain cells occurs when the branches of our nerve cells become lazy and remain idle for too long. Katz’s findings reaffirms the adage ‘use it or loss it’ (Castillo 2013).
Retirement has been found to impact adversely on well-being. Dr. Barbara Bagan, professor of expressive arts therapy at Ottawa University, encourages aging individuals to pursue arts activity to enhance cognitive function, to help them relax, improve a sense of control, and a sense of identity and self-esteem (Bagan). Neurological research shows that making art can improve cognitive function by producing new neural pathways and strengthening the connections between brain cells (Mahenfran 2018).
In a study entitled ‘Can Creativity Beat Death? A Review and Evidence on the Existential Anxiety Buffering Functions of Creativity Achievement’, the researchers explored the possibility that creative pursuits may actually buffer anxiety related to the inevitability of death (Perach & Wisman 2016). In a longitudinal study on wellbeing of the older population, long-term frequent arts engagement was associated with higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction, self-realisation, and control/autonomy in older adults (Tymoszuk,Spiro, Perkins, Williamon & Francourt 2019).
With an increasing aging population, it makes sense to investigate activities that would maintain and improve wellbeing of residents in aged care (Roswiyani, Kwakkenbos, Spijker & Witteman 2017). Loneliness and social isolation adversely affect older people’s wellbeing. Despite living in close proximity with their peers, people in aged care homes often suffer loneliness. The authors of this study also referred to a literature review that found the most prevalent health outcome of loneliness in old age was depression, while for social isolation it was cardiovascular problems (Courtain & Knapp 2017).
‘Creative Journeys’, a participatory arts initiative in Essex in the U.K., provided people living in aged care homes opportunities to participate in arts activities i.e., visual arts, dance and music. The qualitative data taken from the studies shows that the arts activities enabled older people to express themselves creatively and brought meaningful contribution to their social relationships (Dadswell, Bungay, Wilson and Munn-Giddings 2020).
‘Arts on Prescription’ for community-dwelling older people (65+) with a range of health and wellness needs, found some positive results. The study is the first evaluation of arts on prescription for older people in Australia and found that it had a positive impact on mental wellbeing and creativity due to the program’s ability to foster a sense of purpose, enable personal growth, achievement, empower participants and foster the development of meaningful relation (Poulos 2019)
Adults, Art and Neuroscience
The development of modern technology has allowed art to intersect with science and informs us about what is going on in the brain when we engage in art. A study conducted at Drexel University, Philadelphia, in 2017 found that expressive visual art making, specifically, colouring, doodling and free drawing, activates the brain’s reward pathways. (Kaimal & asso. 2017). Assistant Professor Girija Kaimal led a team of researchers using fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy), a non-invasive optical imaging headband, to measure blood flow of the brain’s reward centre, the medial prefrontal cortex of 26 participants engaged in the three art-making activities. Blood flow continued to be monitored during participants’ rest time in-between each activity. The fNIRS images revealed that art making activates the medial prefrontal cortex and when participants rested, their cerebrum blood flow decreased to normal rates.
The art-making experiences were non-judgemental, and the researchers surveyed the participants prior to the experiment to ascertain if they considered themselves to be artists. The results showed no difference in brain activation between those who considered themselves artists and those who did not. Interestingly, the results also showed more blood-flow when participants were doodling and in second place, when they were engaged in the free drawing activity.
The medial prefrontal is related to regulating our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is also related to emotional and motivational systems and forms part of the wiring for the brain’s reward circuit. When we feel rewarded, we are happy. The researchers believe the results show that there might be inherent pleasure in doing art activities independent of the end results, as “Sometimes we tend to be very critical of what we do because we have internalized societal judgements of what is good or bad art and therefore, who is skilled and who is not. We might be reducing or neglecting a simple potential source of rewards perceived by the brain”. The researchers wrote that art engagement could benefit people with health conditions, such as, people with addictive behaviours, eating disorders or mood disorders.
In another study, in 2016, Professor Kaimal in partnership with Kendra Ray of New York University Langone Medical Centre found that making art can lower stress and anxiety. 39 volunteers between 18 and 56 took part in the study. They varied in race and gender (36 women and 6 men) with no pre-existing health concerns were individually invited to an open art studio for a 45-minute session of artmaking of their own choosing. An art therapist was present and “holding the space”. At their participants’ disposal were collage materials, clay and markers. The open art studio context expanded on the idea of using an art space, the art process and art materials for visual self-expression and achieving wellbeing.
The researchers measured cortisol levels of the healthy adults. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body respond to stress. Two psychometric scales were employed: The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), to measure mood and the General-Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), which is designed to assess optimal self-belief to cope with a variety of difficult demands in life. Participants self-evaluated before and after art making. The results showed that 45 mins. of creative art significantly lowered cortisol levels. There was also improved positive affect and self-efficacy in all participants. Prior experience of art making did not have influence on psychological outcomes and the topics of choice were as diverse as the participants themselves. Overall, it suggests that visual self-expression is a therapeutic vehicle to assist in sustaining mental health and wellbeing.
An experiment in London by Dr Angela Clow from the University of Westminster studied the impact of a lunchtime visit to an art gallery on city workers. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol were measures, as well as self- reported levels of stress and arousal. Salivary samples were taken on arrival at the gallery and after the viewing. Findings showed that cortisol levels were elevated to higher-than-normal levels prior to the art intervention but normalized rapidly and substantially because of the visit. Participants also self-reported that stress was reduced after the gallery visit, indicating that a simple invention like a gallery visit can reduce stress (Clow 2006).
In a 2020 study, Ass/Professor Wenhua Yen and two collaborators in Shanghai used fNRIS (near-infrared spectroscopy) to collect activity data of the prefrontal cortex. Their aim was to explore the role of drawing in regulating anger and sadness. Their findings provide an empirical basis for drawing to improve negative emotion, particularly sadness (Wenhua Yen 2020).
Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at University College London, used an MRI scanner to map the brain activity of volunteers as they viewed the artworks of artists. He discovered that when a person finds an artwork beautiful, the medial orbito-frontal cortex “lights up”. The artworks trigger the release of a surge of dopamine in the brain, the chemical related to feelings of love, pleasure, and desire. Professor Zeki says “Art induced a “feel good” sensation directed to the brain. Also, viewing art you do not like lights up a completely different part of the brain – the amygdala, which activates when you look at frightening stimuli or feel fear and anger, as if the body is being mobilized to avoid what is ugly. He says viewing art you like can give as much joy as being in love. He believes it is not just good for our health, it can have a big impact on the nation’s happiness.
Professor Zeki collaborated with Tonoshiro Ishizu to determine whether there are common mechanisms underlying the appreciation of visual and auditory beauty. The results revealed that viewing beautiful art and listening to beautiful music was related with activity in several brain areas, however, there was a single common area that was more active – the medial orbitofrontal cortex region. They also showed that beauty perceived through the eyes and ears “rewarded” the same part of the brain, which is related to pleasure (Ishizu & Zeki 2011).
A German neuroscience study investigated the effects of visual art production and cognitive art evaluation on the well-being of retirees. The question posed was: can art change the connections you make in your brain? The researchers, led by Anne Bolwerk, placed an advertisement in a local newspaper to recruit retirees. 28 volunteers, consisting of both men and women, whose average age was 63.7 years, committed to a two-hour weekly session for 10 weeks. The first group engaged in expressive art making, while the second group evaluated artworks at a museum.
Participants undertook psychological examination before and after the program. The researchers also used functional MRI brain scanning to analyse activity (i.e., blood flow) in the default mode network (DMN), a large brain network that activates when a person is not focused on the external environment.
In the psychological tests those that produced art showed signs of becoming better adapted to stress and adversity. This was also supported by their brain scans that showed increased activity in the areas associated with self-awareness and memory recessing. It provides empirical evidence that art making leads to positive neural and psychological changes, which are ultimately beneficial to wellbeing and health of the older population (Bolwerk 2014).
People Suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease
‘I Remember Better When I Paint’ is a fascinating documentary by Eric Ellena and Berna Huebner that looks at the positive effects of the visual arts and other creative activities on people who have memory loss and cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Patient involvement in art making is being recognized as helping sufferer actively communicate and lead a richer quality of life. It also changes the way people view Alzheimer patients. The documentary makers travelled to the best aged care facilities in the U.S.A. and Western Europe, where the creative arts are integrated into the daily activities of people living with Alzheimer’s Disease. Their findings are so uplifting and encouraging for people sufferers from the disease and for their families.
“Alzheimer’s Disease does not affect the entire brain all at once. It starts selectively in the parts that are responsible for laying down new memory”, says Dr. Robert C. Green, Professor of Neurology and Genetics at Boston University. “The parietal lobe is involved in creativity, but it is not effected by Alzheimer until much later in the progression of the disease”. “That part of the brain is stimulated by art and music”, says Dr. Sam Gandy of Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre, NYC.
The documentary makers take us to France where people suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease visit an art gallery. When engaged in conversation about various artworks, they become quite animated and ‘alive’. They are able to make intelligent comments about the images they view and feelings that they evoke.
Judy Holstein, director of CJE Senior Life Day Service in Chicago added in reference to Alzheimer’s patients, “We now know that they take in colour, form, shape and they process it in some way that is real, that’s in the moment. And it translates in an Alzheimer’s person’s brain to have some meaning. The creative arts are an avenue to tap into a non-verbal, emotional place, inner person. When they are given paint, markers, any kind of media for art making and their hands are involved and their muscles are involved, things are tapped in them that are genuine and active and alive, so the creative arts bypass the limitations and go to the strength. People still have their imagination intact all the way to the very end of their progress disease” (Elena and Huebner2009).
The wide range of research examined by Art Friends provides ample empirical evidence that the arts, and more specially the visual arts, create a positive response in adults. When th evidence is collated and categorized into the four health and wellbeing domains, the types of benefits of art engagement becomes more apparent. Some of the findings could be classified under two domains, for example, reduced loneliness (through community art) improves psychological and social wellbeing.
- Psychological: happier, calmer; reduced loneliness and isolation; effective in treating mental illness (depression and anxiety) in children; effective in treating mental illness in adults (depression and anxiety); enhanced mental health and life satisfaction; protects against mental distress; improves mood; activated positive affect; enhanced self-worth; maintain and regain sense of identity; sense of achievement; allows expression of feelings; distraction from pain; reduces anxiety; improved self-worth; new appreciation of identity; improved quality of life; increase self-awareness; buffers anxiety in older people; helps people to relax; improved sense of control; foster sense of purpose; enabled personal growth; empowerment; increased feeling pleasure.
- Physiological: lower stress hormone response; enhanced immune function and higher cardiovascular reactivity; reduces pain and blood pressure for children and parents; improve motor Skills; DMN activated; increase memory; improved cognitive function; nero-chemical work more efficiently; strengthens neural networks; enhanced cognitive function; activates brain reward pathways; decreases cortisol levels; increase dopamine level; increase memory.
- Social: maintains social identity; makes you feel less isolated; connection to others; improved social relations; relieves isolation and relieves loneliness.
- Behavioural: transforms health behaviours; skills development; turn pain into something positive in artwork; take control of life; develop meaningful relationships; expand themselves creatively; grow resilience and acceptance, attending classes regularly.
Art engagement elicited very positive and pervasive psychological responses such as, enhanced self-efficacy, coping and positive emotions in participants in numerous studies. Art participation also harnessed beneficial physiological responses such as, lower stress hormone response, better cardio reaction (i.e., lower blood pressure). The simple act of being with other while actively engaged reduced loneliness and isolation and improved social behaviour. Behavioural responses, such as, taking control of one’s life were positive signs of psychological wellbeing and social engagement. In short, the research shows that art participation encourages health-promoting behaviour, assists in preventing and/or managing a plethora of mental illness and physiological decline and improves our overall health and wellbeing.
© 2021 Dani Chak and Sandy Raponi- Saunders This research document has been developed for Art Friends P/L and written by Dani Chak and Sandy Raponi- Saunders.
No part of this document may be reproduced without express permission by the authors.
For contact with the authors please write to Miss D Chak and Ms S Raponi-Saunders at