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‘Art therapy critical in combating mental disorders’

Cases of mental disorders are on the rise due to a plethora of factors and art therapy can be used to combat such problems, a Harare-based psychologist Collins Macheche has said.

Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being at the same time affecting how people think, feel and act.

“Studies suggest that art therapy can be very valuable in treating issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even some phobias,” said Macheche.

“It is a great way to express your emotions without words, process complex feelings and find relief.”

Mental health benefits of art activities include self discovery, boost for self esteem, self relief and emotional release.

“Art therapy can be used as a complement to traditional mental health treatment,” Macheche said. 

“The aim is to manage behaviours, process feelings, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase self-esteem.

“Creating art can help you acknowledge and recognise feelings that have been lurking in your subconscious.

“The process will give you a feeling of self-accomplishment which can be very valuable to improve your self-appreciation and confidence.”

Mental disorders include illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The greatest benefit of art therapy is giving you a healthy outlet for expressing and letting go all your feelings and fears,” he said.

“Complex emotions such as sadness or anger sometimes cannot be expressed with words. When you are unable to express yourself, but you desire emotional release, making art may help you to do it.

“Fighting anxiety, depression or emotional trauma can be very stressful for you both mentally and physically.”

Creating art can be used to relieve stress and relax your mind and body.

“The best way to handle a crisis is to prevent it in the first place,” he said.

“Some of the prevention measures are monitoring your symptoms for any changes, planning ahead for stressful events, maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle and Iearning stress management and problem solving skills that works for you.”

He added that; people who suffer from a chronic disease are more likely to also suffer from depression.

Economic hardships, peer pressure, rampant drug abuse, religious abuse and social problems are contributing a lot towards the rise of mental disorders.

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