Art Helps Cancer Patients’ Mental Health
A Form of Therapy
Art has been used since ancient times to express ourselves. It provides a means to communicate when words are not enough and a positive distraction from the troubles around us. Creating art has always been a form of therapy for humanity; now science is proving that it can be a form of treatment to help the mental health of children with cancer and their caregivers. It can come in painting, drawing, sculpting, collaging, and more. When so much feels out of control, creating art allows kids to be the architect of their own stories, unlocking their imagination and child-like wonder, which is something every child deserves.
Art Improves Communication and Mental Health
It’s hard to express the gravity of the cancer journey, especially as a child. Art therapy is often used to help children express their feelings, build relationships, and improve their coping skills. It also requires a basic level of focus which can distract children from stress and pain. Sometimes, art can be telling and guide a conversation about the child’s struggles or insecurities. For example, if a child draws their friends at school, this may bring up the topic of isolation or loneliness. Art can also uplift spirits, like a child drawing themselves as superheroes can help enhance confidence.
In a study from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Research Labs program found that patients were less stressed and anxious and felt more positive and confident. It was even described as a few moments of respite from hectic treatment schedules. Caregivers reported less burnout, allowing them to process the challenges and journey of dealing with cancer.
How to Optimize an Art Therapy Session
You can get a professional art therapist for your child’s art sessions, but it’s unnecessary. All you need are art tools and a child ready to play!
- Pick an optional time of day. It’s best to schedule a time during the day when your child has more energy. Having these activities during treatment or when a child is fatigued can create a negative association or aversion to the activity.
- Have them choose! Provide different art forms like drawing or painting. Having a say in the decision can feel empowering.
- Let go of guardrails. This is a time for the child to get creative and make up their own rules. It’s supposed to feel fun and encouraging.
- Give positive reinforcement. Let them know that you value the work they’re doing. This shows that you care and can help increase your bond and their confidence.
Here to Serve Can Help
Art is one of the many therapies that can help families’ mental health along the cancer journey. At Here to Serve, support programs and their resource referrals can also assist families in finding additional mental health resources, financial services, transportation, lodging, organizational assistance, spiritual support, and more. Discover the many services Here to Serve offers. If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with cancer, have them reach out to Here to Serve to get help now!
By Emily Rogalin
All information on this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. Always consult a medical provider in your particular area of need before making significant changes in your medical decisions or lifestyle.