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Art Activities for Mental Health Patients

Art helps individuals in all environments to express themselves freely.
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Art is commonly used as a form of therapy in a variety of environments, including mental health treatment centers and hospitals. Creating art allows patients of all kinds to relax and exercise their creative muscles. They may even realize a passion and talent for art that can help them to get through challenging times. There are many art activities that mental health patients can take part in.

Fantasy Painting

Have patients paint a picture of their world as they’d like it to be. This can be a complete fantasy, such as a world of mythical creatures, or something more realistic. Tell them to be completely free in their work, forgetting what others may think and focusing solely on their goals. Use any variety of mediums, including acrylic craft paints and watercolors. This is a great activity for helping patients to realize what they truly want out of life, and to learn how to focus on their personal goals. It is a free and unrestricted activity that can help individuals to feel a sense of control and creativity.

Found Object Sculpture

By having patients create a found art sculpture, they get the chance to think about art in a nontraditional manner. Have them collect objects from the places they visit a daily basis, and put them together to form a sculpture. The sculpture can represent a recognizable form or it can be abstract. Have them get creative in the way that the sculpture is presented. For example, it could be attached to a wall or ceiling.

Inspiration Collage

Have patients create a collage featuring their personal inspirations. Have them collect photographs, pictures from magazines or online and images that they have created themselves. They can paste or tape them onto a poster board or other surface. You can choose to have the patients present their collages to the group or a partner; have them explain why the images are an inspiration to them.


Patients can create portraits of one another to help them see themselves in a new light, through the eyes of others. Have patients partner up, or assign the partners yourself. Have them take turns sitting for each other. Ideal portrait materials include chalk, graphite and paint. While the sitting is taking place, patients can draw an outline and fill in any colors or details later on.

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