Art activities and mental health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

In a national survey of over 31 thousand college students, about 31% of college students report stress impacting their academics, followed by anxiety (25%), and depression (16%). (1).

Excessive stress can also lead to depression and anxiety (2).

A previous post looked at leisure activities and mental health.

Activities involving ART may also help with improving mental health which can then help with academics.

Are there examples of research on art activities and mental health?

  • Sandmire and colleagues showed that art making therapy can help with pre-test anxiety among undergraduate students, done upto 1 week before exams (3).
  • Abbing and colleagues showed that art making therapy can improve symptoms of anxiety among women diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder or panic disorder, with moderate to severe anxiety symptoms.  These were 10-12 sessions lasting 45-60 minutes (4).
  • In a study of 85 undergraduate students, free choice coloring, where they could color an image using any colors they wanted; showed an improvement in anxiety and mood (5).
  • In an experimental replication study, after inducing an anxious mood via a writing activity, participants were randomly assigned to three groups that colored either on a mandala design, on a plaid design, or on a blank paper (6). They found that coloring a mandala reduces anxiety to a significantly greater degree than coloring on a plaid design or coloring on a blank paper (6).

What are some caveats?

  • These are small studies in specific populations which does not tell us about all populations.
  • Further research in this area is needed.

Anything else that can help?

In addition to art, the following activities can also help with physical and emotional health:

  • Healthy lifestyle habits(healthy eating habits, healthy exercise, relaxation skills, healthy sleep habits, etc.) (7)
  • Avoiding harmful habits(smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol, etc) (7)
  • This balance might vary from person to person.
  • Healthy ways of thinking and managing emotions through counseling and medications when appropriate.

Different people might benefit from different types of art. What type of art is best for you?

Campus resources:

Any other useful resources on campus:

Learn more about play and mental health:

https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/09/22/mental-health-benefits-of-leisure-activities/

https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2016/09/28/study-play-and-leisures-impact-on-mood-stress-and-wellbeing/

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. American College Health Association. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Fall 2017. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association; 2018.
  2. Khan S, Khan RA (2017) Chronic Stress Leads to Anxiety and Depression. Ann Psychiatry Ment Health 5(1): 1091.
  3. David Alan Sandmire, Sarah Roberts Gorham, Nancy Elizabeth Rankin & David Robert Grimm (2012) The Influence of Art Making on Anxiety: A Pilot Study, Art Therapy, 29:2, 68-73, DOI: 10.1080/07421656.2012.683748
  4. Abbing, A., Baars, E. W., de Sonneville, L., Ponstein, A. S., & Swaab, H. (2019). The Effectiveness of Art Therapy for Anxiety in Adult Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in psychology10, 1203. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01203
  5. Judy Eaton & Christine Tieber (2017) The Effects of Coloring on Anxiety, Mood, and Perseverance, Art Therapy, 34:1, 42-46, DOI: 10.1080/07421656.2016.1277113
  6. Renée van der Vennet & Susan Serice (2012) Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? A Replication Study, Art Therapy, 29:2, 87-92, DOI: 10.1080/07421656.2012.680047
  7. Trainor, P. Delfabbro, S. Anderson, A. Winefield. Leisure activities and adolescent psychological well-being. Journal of Adolescence, 33 (1) (2010), pp. 173-186.

 

College Student Mental Health: A guide for parents and families.

Being a student at The Ohio State University is exciting. College years are generally met with great enthusiasm and looked back on with nostalgia. Yet, as with any stage in life, there are both opportunities and challenges. There is much to navigate as students balance academic priorities, internship and career options, finances, relationships, schedules, nutrition, sleep, stress management and more. While your student is capable of a great deal, this can all be overwhelming at times.

In recent years, multiple factors have contributed to increased mental health concerns for young adults. According to the Healthy Minds study, mental health diagnoses among college students increased from 22% to 36% between 2007 and 2017.

Over the last decade, mental health resources have diversified and expanded to meet the increased need. Parents and families should know that a wide array of support services, tailored to student concerns, are available at Ohio State and in the Columbus community to address their needs in a timely and effective manner. Included among these are workshops, wellness coaching, peer support, counseling, specialty mental health treatment, and emergency services. 

You know your student best. If they are struggling, you are likely to notice changes in them. Here are specific signs you should be aware of to prompt you to express concern to your student:

  • A significant change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Withdrawing socially (e.g., not leaving their room, not going to class, and not responding to you.)
  • Change in energy or motivation
  • Significant or unexpected emotional reactions
  • Using alcohol/marijuana/other drugs
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Is frequently or increasingly tearful, sad, or agitated
  • A sudden drop in academic performance, especially for students who generally perform well
  • Expressions of hopelessness, e.g., “What’s the point of trying?”
  • Direct or indirect statements about death or suicide, e.g., “What¹s the point of living?” or “I wish I were dead”
  • Avoidance of certain places or situations, or fear of being alone
  • Increased irritability or restlessness
  • Struggling to communicate clearly

For students with pre-existing mental health concerns, the following options would be helpful:

Students can schedule a phone consultation with Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service to help arrange for resources and receive a clinical recommendation tailored to their needs.

Consider obtaining Student Health Insurance through the Office of Student Life, as this would eliminate out-of-network costs and provide access to many treatment resources in our community.

Consult this community provider database for weekly therapy options. You can screen for a variety of criteria

Consider registering with Student Life Disability Services for accommodations, if appropriate.

 

Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service is available to parents and families and can listen to your concerns, but may not be able to disclose information about the student without written authorization as per State laws governing mental health.  For additional questions or concerns, parents and families can call us at 614-292-5766.

The following can help parents learn more about supporting students’ mental health concerns:

-The JED foundation has a variety of useful resources for parents to assist their student transition to college including: when parents should intervene; possible warning signs of mental health concerns; establishing a communication contract;  first few weeks of college; talking to your child about mental health.

Other books and resources:

  • The Stressed Years of Their Lives by B Janet Hibbs Phd MFT and Anthony Rostain MD, MA
  • When Your Kid Goes to College: a Parent’s Survival Guide by Carol Barkin
  • You’re on your own (But I’m here if you Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years by Helen E. Johnson
  • Been There, Should Have Done That II: More Tips for Making the Most of College by Suzette Tyler
  • She’s Leaving Home – Letting Go as a Daughter Goes to College by Connie Jones
  • Give Them Wings by Carol Kuykendall
  • Empty Nest, Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College by Andrea Van Steerhouse
  • How to Survive and Thrive in an Empty Nest: Reclaiming Your Life When Your Children Have Grown by Jeanette C. Lauer
  • Almost Grown: Launching Your Child From High School to College by Patricia Pasick
  • Becoming a Wise Parent for Your Grown Child: How to Give Love and Support without Meddling by Betty Frain, Ph.D & Eileen M. Clegg
  • I’ll Miss You Too: An Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students by Margo E. Woodacre Bane & Stephanie Bane

Helpful websites for parents:

 

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

 Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

Coping with Homesickness

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

For college students, leaving home and going to college brings a lot of new and exciting opportunities, along with challenges.  This transition can also be stressful, and a time when college students might feel home sick, especially during the first few weeks of starting school.

The JED foundation, offers some helpful  strategies to deal with feelings of homesickness:

  • Bring something to college that gives you comfort and/or reminds you of home, such as pictures of friends and family or your favorite set of sheets.
  • Get involved with campus organizations and activities. As these connections strengthen, feeling of loneliness will ease.
  • Make a plan to stay connected with your existing support network. This contact can be in the form of phone/video calling, texting, and other ways of communicating with loved ones from home; including seeing them in person.
  • Try to find a balance between keeping in touch with friends and family with time spent getting to know your new surroundings and new people.  After the first few days or weeks it might be good to try to cut back on this a bit and to focus more on campus life and school.
  • Don’t isolate: sign up for activities, meet people on your hall, find study groups for your classes, get involved in a religious group, or attend a club that you normally wouldn’t attend.
  • Homesickness usually goes away after a few weeks, but if it doesn’t there are other resources available for you on campus to help you work through a difficult transition period.

In addition, it may be helpful to plan some time to visit friends/family a few weeks ahead and periodically during the semester.  This may also give you something positive to look forward to.

What are some helpful campus resources?

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By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

 Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.