Effects of Creative Arts on Psychological Wellbeing
By Silverado Staff Writer
Most people are familiar with the notion that being creative can brighten one’s mood, provide emotional insights and help in alleviating stress. But over the last decade, several studies have helped validate this belief by providing scientific insights on how creative expression can affect functions of the brain.
In a 2006 study of older adults, Dr. Gene Cohen measured the impact of cultural art programs on general health, mental health and social activity. Cohen found that those who participated in these programs experienced an enhanced perception of control and self-confidence, presumably caused by their level of involvement in the creative process.
Cohen characterized this as ‘self-mastery’ and concluded that older adults benefit from the challenge and satisfaction of artistic achievement. He argued that artistic endeavors – versus simple arts-and-crafts – go much farther in engaging the mind to spark curiosity, promote problem solving and enhance psychological wellbeing.
One study group even reported “better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage, along with more positive responses on mental health measures and a higher level of social engagement.”
A research committee led by The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), who conducted a comprehensive literature review of studies that measured the health outcomes of participatory art programs, then expanded Cohen’s work in 2009.
Of the more than 2,000 research papers initially reviewed, only 11 met the focused criteria. But evidence from those 11 studies confirmed “there are a variety of benefits for health and functioning from participation in creative and performing arts programs for older adults.”
These studies are important because they add to our body of knowledge about the brain. But they are also important because they validate what we see at Silverado communities every day.
Through our holistic engagement programs, residents spend their days involved in activities that encourage creative expression, socialization and self-mastery of skills. And, similar to the findings of Cohen and the NCCA, we have seen extensive improvements in our resident’s psychological wellbeing and quality of life.