The Healing Power of the Arts: Promoting Children and Young Adults' Mental Health and Well-being

Kerry Hearsey
May 10, 2024
 min read
Share this post
The Healing Power of the Arts: Promoting Children and Young Adults' Mental Health and Well-being

In the realm of mental health and well-being for children and young adults, the arts play a transformative role. Whether it's through visual arts, music, dance, theater, or literature, creative expression has the power to nurture emotional resilience, promote self-discovery, and foster connection. In this series of blogs, we will delve into the profound impact of the arts on mental health, exploring research-backed insights into how engagement with various art forms can support the holistic development of children and young adults.

Visual arts, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography, offer a canvas for emotional expression and self-reflection. Research has shown that engagement in visual arts activities can have therapeutic benefits for mental health and well-being (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010). Creating art provides individuals with a means to externalise their inner experiences, process emotions, and cultivate a sense of agency and empowerment.

Moreover, the act of creating art stimulates the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters associated with feelings of pleasure and well-being (Kaimal et al., 2016). This neurobiological response can lead to a sense of calmness, satisfaction, and emotional balance. Additionally, engaging in visual arts activities encourages mindfulness and present-moment awareness, fostering a sense of connection to oneself and the surrounding environment.

Furthermore, exposure to visual arts has been linked to enhanced empathy, perspective-taking, and social connection (Davis, 2016). By engaging with art, children and young adults develop the capacity to understand and appreciate diverse perspectives, fostering empathy and compassion towards others. Additionally, participation in art-based community initiatives and collaborative projects promotes social cohesion and a sense of belonging.

Theatre is a dynamic art form that brings stories to life through live performance, dialogue, and embodiment. The collaborative nature of theatre fosters teamwork, communication skills, and creative problem-solving, making it an ideal medium for promoting mental health and well-being in children and young adults.

Participating in theatre activities, such as acting, improvisation, or stagecraft, offers numerous therapeutic benefits. Theatre provides individuals with an opportunity to step into different roles, explore new identities, and gain insight into their own emotions and motivations. Through dramatic expression, children and young adults can develop a deeper understanding of themselves and others, enhancing empathy and interpersonal skills.

Moreover, the communal experience of attending live theatre performances promotes social connection and a sense of belonging. Sharing in the collective energy of a live performance can foster a sense of unity and shared humanity, transcending individual differences and fostering a sense of connection to the broader community.

Both visual arts and theatre offer powerful avenues for promoting mental health and well-being in children and young adults. Through creative expression, emotional exploration, and social connection, engagement with visual arts and theatre can nurture resilience, foster empathy, and empower individuals to navigate life's challenges with confidence and creativity.


  • Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: A review of current literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254–263.
  • Kaimal, G., Ray, K., & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of cortisol levels and participants' responses following art making. Art Therapy, 33(2), 74–80.
  • Davis, M. (2016). The Importance of Arts Education in the Development of Social and Emotional Skills. Art Education, 69(6), 44–49.

Kerry Hearsey