Student Art Therapy Association takes on mental health issues with art therapy

Photo from Student Art Therapy Association.

The Student Art Therapy Association hosted an “anti-anxiety chill sesh” that was open to all students last month. They are also conducting a year-long project about student mental health.

“Essentially, we are curious about whether Seton Hill is doing enough for its student body regarding mental health,” said Jess Minckley, president of SATA. “SHU has an institutional responsibility to not only educate its students but to care for their well being. There are many offices and groups and workshops that are in service of this end. Art Therapy would like to play a bigger role in the community in this way, through a student-led peer support initiative using creative practices.”

“Later in the year, we will be putting together a PSA art poster on mental health crisis situations: what to do if someone you know is in crisis,” Minckley said. “We believe stress and its resultant anxiety and depression are facts of the student experience, and that it is a matter of public health to care for these issues in the lives of our community members. It’s a sad fact that if untreated, these conditions can be deadly.”

The American Art Therapy Association states that “art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.”

“As art therapy practitioners, we believe in the healing and transformative power of the act of creative expression,” Minckley said.

One goal of the SATA sessions is to support “personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns.” Art therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress and advance societal and ecological change, Minckley said.

“The bottom line is we want to be involved,” Minckley said. “We have undergraduate and graduate students at the Arts Complex, and the graduates rarely interact with the students on the Hill. We want to be a better part of the SHU community and the first step is awareness.”

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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