Art as a Powerful Healing Tool

Even though this had to be in my life, I have used art in many forms and chose this to be my coping skills to get away and be me. Art is something I have always had as a skill and it will never be taken from me. Bipolar may live within me, but art will always heal me
— Angela McCormick, 2016 Healing Art Show Artist

When facing a mental illness diagnosis, a million thoughts and feelings flood the mind. It is often hard to conceptualize those thoughts or slow down to describe these feelings to others..

This is when art comes in.

Art is one of many tools used in recovery from mental illness. For many individuals living with a mental health condition, art is an incredibly effective way to connect with built-up emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This can be accomplished through painting, drawing, sculpting, writing, music, and much more.  Art requires active participation in treatment and recovery from the artist.

Time and time again, research continually shows that art therapy can be effective in:

  • Empowering and providing self-discovery

  • Increasing motivation for recovery

  • Relaxing and providing stress-relief

  • Teaching proper coping skills

  • Facilitating insight and empathy

  • Promoting problem-solving skills

  • Relieving symptoms

For the eleventh year in a row, NAMI Wisconsin will celebrate the power of art through this year’s Healing Art Show. This is an exhibit of 40+ artists from around the state of Wisconsin who also live with a mental health condition.

No artwork displayed during the Healing Art Show looks the same. Just like the artist, each piece has a unique background and story to share with the world.

Not only does the Healing Art Show aim to celebrate the talented participating artists, but through artistic expression brings awareness to the surrounding community, reducing stigma surrounding mental illness. The exhibit provides an opportunity to spotlight the creative strengths of each artist, which far overshadow any shame or stereotypes that one might associate to mental illness. This year’s exhibit is graciously hosted by Lakeside St. Coffee House in Madison, Wisconsin.

If you would like to share your story through your art at this year’s 11th Annual Healing Art Show, NAMI Wisconsin urges you to apply! Applications are now being accepted until Thursday, August 24th, 2017. We accept any medium of art, whether it be paintings, sculptures, and even written work.

For more information on the Healing Art Show, click here to learn more or email NAMI Wisconsin’s Communications & Events Director, Jamie Gurgul, at

Written by Jamie Gurgul, NAMI Wisconsin's Communications & Events Director