Student stresses are being met with art therapy as universities begin to encourage mental health management through art.
Art therapy programs are becoming popular in universities both around Australia, and internationally to encourage more modern, holistic approaches to mental health to break into traditional environments.
Head lecturer at the College of Complementary Medicine, Tracey Morrissey, said that art therapy has amazing benefits for students and offers an approach different from traditional therapy.
“Art therapy is just a beautiful way of tapping into our own healing. It’s of the philosophy that we can all become, or we all are, our own healers and that the psych can be self-regulating and self-healing,” she said.
“There’s a lot of evidence based research now that’s really contributing to the efficacy of art therapy.
“The idea is that we can externalise what’s internal, bring it out onto the table and once it’s out on the table, we can really kind of work with it- and then it’s all about acknowledging it, accepting it, and integrating it.”
Ms Morrissey said that art therapy should be accessible to students as it creates an outlet for their stress and relieves them of the challenges they face academically.
“Art therapy is open to everybody, it’s universal. In universities you’ll probably have a diverse, variety of people, and different requirements or things that are affecting people,” she said.
“Around mental health, there can be a lot of stigma, so creating these hubs where people can come in and get into this creative process and feel good about creating it, I think it really sends a really good message that it’s okay to seek help and that there are accessible resources available for students to support their well-being in a really gentle way.”
America’s University of California, Berkeley is an international example of higher education implementing art therapy as they advertise a permanent group that meets for art therapy and mental health support.
Former president of Art and Mind Jenny Chinnapha told the ‘The Daily Californian’ that their club is a great way to support mental health but also find community.
“The goal of our club is to provide students with a safe space so that they can destress by doing art,” she said.
“We try to promote various art therapy techniques as well as mindfulness to help support students.
“It’s a nice way to introduce students to different outlets for stress and create a safe space where they can try art therapy.”
Clubs and programs similar to Berkeley’s are popping into university culture in Australia to advocate for mental health through creativity.
UOW has joined the trend this month, starting their art therapy program ‘Crafternoon’ for students as part of the PULSE Mental health month initiative.