Art and Mental Health

“Art has the power to render sorrow beautiful, make loneliness a shared experience, and transform despair into hope.”

– Brené Brown

In communities that have endemic poverty and conflict, it’s common to experience life altering stressful and traumatic events 8x a year, compared to the USA norm of experiencing the same events 4x in a lifetime.    

Mental health impacts our individual lives, relationships, and communities.    

Perpetual stress and trauma disrupt our ability to function day to day, relate to others meaningfully, imagine better futures for ourselves and others, problem solve both domestic and community concerns, and even solve some of the world’s most pressing global challenges.   

Girls endure additional injustice.  

35% or 1 in 3 (35%) women and girls globally will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, – WHO, 2021  In conflict settings, this percentage can escalate, to 70%.   

The Mental Health Care Gap  

Of the more than 1 billion people globally living with a mental health disorder, 80% live in low and middle-income countries.  75% of individuals with mental health conditions in these low- and medium-income countries do not have access to any treatment.  Girls and young women in low- and middle-income countries are one and a half to two times more likely than boys to be diagnosed with clinical depression during adolescence  

The current state of this challenge, however, offers a massive and positive opportunity for improving lives and livelihood. We know arts-based mental health interventions do help people cope with trauma, build resilience, and move forward in their lives. For low-resource communities, art-based approaches to mental health are positively life altering. It is where Colors of Connection comes in. Our non-stigmatizing, low-cost art engagement methodology fills the care gap by putting individuals on a path to a better quality of life and a sense of well-being. This approach is effective because it connects to how our bodies effectively process trauma and can contextually adapt – art is universally practiced in all cultures and contexts.   

A growing body of research confirms that art has the power to effectuate


  • Art builds social capital
  • Art promotes positive behavior that can increase positive social interactions
  • Art facilitates positive interaction with others

Expression and communication

  • Art provides age-appropriate mediums for emotional expression
  • Art creates opportunities for communication on a larger scale
  • Art facilitates understanding of new perspectives
  • Art allows for knowledge-sharing with diverse audiences
  • Art elicits solidarity

Personal and community agency

  • Art helps people develop a sense of self and their belief in their ability to direct their life
  • Art inspires community action
  • Art promotes civic engagement

Holistic Healing

  • Art has positive effects on health
  • Art can heal trauma

Self and social analysis

  • Community art creates the opportunity for people to examine the social, economic and political structures of their society and their own roles within society in a reflective and critical way.

Learn more about the academic research on the power of art.