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Supporting Mental Health Through the Performing Arts

These days we hear a lot about incorporating social and emotional learning into school curricula. After a year of physical distancing and school closures, students are struggling to re-enter the classroom and re-engage with their peers. Understanding tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions have become challenging with the reliance on technology. By increasing access to the arts, especially dramatic arts, students gain social interaction skills and confidence when engaging with each other.

A growing body of research continues to highlight how increased social media usage directly correlates to an increase in anxiety, depression, and isolation in our youth. One of the key ways to help students struggling with mental health is to help them feel connected to their school. Participating in the school drama club provides students with a community that wants the student to interact with them. Furthermore, engaging with peers in person elevates a student’s attitude, automatically removing depressive thoughts and ideas.

Frequently, students don’t have the language yet to explain to adults how they are feeling. Throughout practices and rehearsals, students are examining the emotions and feelings characters are expressing through their words and actions. Discussing the play provides a safe space for students to reflect on and understand their own emotions and reactions. By roleplaying, students learn how to manage, articulate, and understand negative emotions and discover the right language to ask for help when necessary.

A report published by Americans for the Arts said creativity is the primary skill 72% of business leaders look for in employee candidates. Employers need a workforce that can think outside the box, understand the customer, and develop unique solutions to emerging problems. Students in the dramatic arts have greater empathy than their peers because they have explored other points of view in their performances. As empathetic employees, they can better engage with customers and colleagues to create meaningful solutions and a more positive workplace.

As you take time throughout this National Mental Health Awareness month to reflect on your own mental health, think of the pressures and anxiety our students are navigating as they return to the classroom. Your monetary donation to the dramatic arts allows a student to explore and learn the social and emotional language necessary to connect with their peers and family.

1, Americans for the Arts, (13 May 2022)

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