Did you know art can cure?

Art is beneficial to every person’s mental health, patient or not. Studies found a direct and strong showing link between the content of images that art offers and the brain’s reaction to pain, stress, and anxiety. Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of the arts in healthcare in hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, hospices, and other locations within the community.

With more and more studies showing a direct link between the content of images and the brain’s reaction to pain, stress, and anxiety, the majority of the hospitals in the United States are giving arts a higher priority than mere decoration for sterile rooms and corridors.

Aside from Hospitality sector of society—especially in Tourism, Art is presently innovating the healthcare scene. Healthcare Art is now fast becoming a trend in the western part of the world.

Since the millennium, medical facilities including hospitals, clinics, senior living residences, and dental and medical offices have started to recognize the importance of providing healing and aesthetically pleasing environments.

In 2006 a Department of Health Working Group on Arts and Health reported that the arts have ‘a clear contribution to make and offer major opportunities in the delivery of better health, wellbeing and improved experience for patients, service users and staff alike’.

In 2003, the Society for the Arts in Healthcare (SAH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) determined the current level and characteristics of arts activities in healthcare (Wikoff, 2004).  The organizations have concluded that hospitals use the arts “to create a more uplifting environment” in addition to “create a welcoming atmosphere and build community relations.” Meanwhile, in 2008, already nearly 50% of all hospitals in the United States have arts programs.

These means that hospitals, as well as the health workers,  are considering and discovering that art in general—including performance, music, and poetry have profound healing effects. Doctors, nurses, and therapists are now working with artists and musicians to heal people of all ages with many conditions including cancer and AIDS.

Arts in healthcare programs and creative arts therapies have been applied to a vast array of health issues, including:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Autism and Children’s mental health and abilities
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Neurological disorders and brain injuries
  • Premature infant births
  • Physical disabilities

The primary beneficiaries of Art in Healthcare are the patients themselves. Arts benefit them by aiding in their physical, mental, and emotional recovery, as well as relieving their anxiety and decreasing their perception of pain.

Hospitals are often seen and portrayed as a cold place where science dominates. Arts create a safer, more supportive and homey ambiance to these healthcare facilities that can affect the general setting for patients and workers, the same. In a mostly intimidating and cold atmosphere and environment, arts can serve as a therapeutic and healing tool, reducing the loneliness and providing opportunities for self-expression.

From the mere architectural design to art hung on the walls, from windows to landscaping and healing gardens, the physical environment was proven to have a significant impact on reducing patient and caregiver stress, improving health outcomes, enhancing patient safety and overall quality of care, and reducing costs. At the same time, it boosts the productivity of healthcare providers, increasing effectiveness and reducing errors.

Research suggests patients are positively affected by nature themes and figurative art with unambiguous, positive faces that convey a sense of security and safety.

A study back in 1993 found that patients exposed to a natural image experienced less postoperative anxiety and were more likely to take weaker painkillers than those who viewed an abstract image or no image.

A 2011 study found that nature images helped calm restless behavior and noise levels in two Texas emergency department waiting rooms. Moreover, in 2014, the Cleveland Clinic reported that patients surveyed on its contemporary collection—which includes abstract and nonrepresentational imagery by some prominent artists—reported a significant positive effect on their experience and on mood, stress, comfort, and expectations.

Some patients in its survey reported they were motivated to get out of bed to view the artwork. Patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder reported the most significant positive improvement in mood.

At the end of the day, a person doesn’t need to have a medical diagnosis to be ‘healed’. Maybe you are experiencing too much stress, pressure, or too much emotion that it takes a toll to your overall disposition and well being.

Art, in any form, can give people emotions that can lift up their spirit and make them more driven than ever. Art is everywhere, influencing us on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not. And this is the sole reason why art is important in our daily lives. With the art that we are surrounded by, whether it’s a painting, music or even videos can have a huge impact on our mood and emotions.

Art can make a community more beautiful. It also makes the places we go and spend time in more interesting. Through art, we gain a better understanding of cultures, history, and tradition; as well as help the people in the present weave their own today.