Improving health through art?
Children’s involvement in arts activities are considered ‘multimodal interventions’; in that they combine different components that are known to be beneficial to health and wellbeing.
Arts activities can involve aesthetic engagement, utilisation of imagination, sensory activation, evocation of emotion and cognitive stimulation. Art activities may also involve social interaction, physical activity, and engagement and interaction within a therapeutic setting.
When performed, arts activities can engage and trigger psychological, physiological, social and behavioural responses that are linked with positive health outcomes. For example: when children are painting, sculpturing or doing crafts, there is an aesthetic and emotional component to their work that provides opportunities for emotional expression and emotional regulation, as well as stress reduction. These are intrinsic to how we manage our mental health.
Art can also make children view obstacles differently, as there is no “wrong answer” to creativity. Such an attitude can play a large role in providing a sense of optimism for a child — not to mention the feeling of accomplishment upon the completion of an artistic task — both of which are essential to building confidence within children.
The benefits of cognitive stimulation when a child is engaged in the arts can provide opportunities for learning, creative thinking and skill development. The social aspects of artistic interaction with other children can involve positive relations with peers, and participating in the arts can also improve a child’s self-esteem, self-beliefs, and reduce feelings of loneliness and experiences of discrimination, which are linked with future mental illness and other conditions such as depression, chronic pain and headaches.
In terms of the physical: the arts can reduce a child’s sedentary behaviours, associated with obesity, depression and chronic pain in adult life, and can also encourage health-promoting behaviours such as eating healthy food and experimenting with play.
If you would like to discuss incorporating arts activities into your child’s routine, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can also find us on Facebook.
Sources: Catterall, J. & Peppler, K.A. (2007, December). Learning in the visual arts and worldview of young children. Cambridge Journal of Education , 37(4); World Health Organization. (2019). Health Evidence Network synthesis report 67. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review the WHO European region.; Greenspan, S. I. (2002). The secure child: Helping our children feel safe and confident in a changing world. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.