The art of boosting mental health
More than something nice to look at, art can play a powerful role in promoting our emotional wellbeing.
Whether you choose to take up a paintbrush or wander through a gallery, art can help protect and improve mental health, both for individuals and the community.
Scientific studies have revealed that simply visiting a gallery can have a positive impact on wellbeing and mental health – and can even mimic the feeling of falling in love.
Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist with the University of London, scanned the brains of volunteers viewing art and discovered that when a person finds an artwork beautiful, it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, the chemical related to feelings of love, pleasure and desire.
RACV’s head of visual arts Mardi Nowak says as well as evoking feelings of joy and wellbeing, art can also play a powerful role in boosting mental health by bringing people together to create connections and start conversations.
“At RACV, we value the role art plays in connecting communities, and how through its reach, it can foster social cohesion across all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Art enriches civic engagement, connects communities and creates valuable social impact.”
She says art plays a key role in RACV’s efforts to support mental health in Victoria's regional communities. To this end, RACV has formed a three-year partnership with arts incubator MPavilion to encourage connections and conversations around art in the regions.
Currently RACV has loaned 20 pieces from its collection of Australian contemporary art to the Benella Art Gallery as part of an exhibition, Re-gathering, which examines the local community's collective experience of COVID-19.