Arts can help local cities creatively support local mental health

Local governments are scrambling to help communities navigate the growing mental health crisis. According to the World Health Organization Anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with young people and women most severely affected. At the same time, health care workers are declining, impacting the number of health care workers available to treat mental illness. mental health america It is estimated that there are 350 people per mental health provider in the United States. Recommendations of the Surgeon General Our loneliness and isolation are rampant A May 2023 article outlines how loneliness and isolation are a “serious threat” to health.

Small rural cities face additional challenges in connecting residents to the services they need. In search of solutions, some local leaders are exploring how the healing powers of the arts can be harnessed to address mental health issues across the city.

How does art improve mental health?

Art can have a positive impact on public health by addressing issues such as: collective trauma, Racism, social exclusion and isolationand chronic disease.University of Florida study shows art can ease symptoms depressive symptomsimproves cognition and memory, and increases overall well-being. Elderly.Participation in arts and cultural activities among adolescents Shown to reduce feelings of loneliness, Risk of Substance Useand behavior and attention problemsreportedly resulting in a decrease as well as Antisocial or criminalized behavior and improved self-control.

Urban Innovation Feature: Rhinelander, Wisconsin (population 8,000)

In 2021, a group of high school youth called Overit began advocating for the city of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, to address social isolation and mental illness among young people by building a skate park. After one of the founding members died of mental illness, Over It Attended a meeting of the Rhinelander City Council to renew their pleas.

Meanwhile, Marshfield Clinic Health System, a local community health care provider, Assessment of community health needs which revealed 87% of those surveyed did not have easy access to services for mental health treatment. According to Oneida County’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey,[1], 51% of students say they rarely or never get emotional help when they need it. 16% Percentage of students who seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months.

[1] Tortola, Owen, McCoy, Catherine, Frederick and Carl. 2021 “Oneida County 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results (High School Edition)”. Madison: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

‘Over It’ members addressing the Rhinelander City Council meeting. (Credit: Art Start)

Local arts organization ArtStart stepped in to help Over It organize. In early 2022, Artstart, the City of Rhinelander and the Marshfield Clinic Health System partnered to join NLC in the One Nation One project. Improving community health and resilience through the arts Efforts to build partnerships across government, the arts and health to achieve better public health outcomes and greater social cohesion.

This cross-sectoral partnership was formed out of a need to try something new to support mental health. “When we think about mental health, we think of going to a doctor. We need it,” says Jordyn Fink, Regional Benefits Coordinator for Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Over It members and community supporters discuss potential new skatepark sites (Credit: ArtStart)

ArtStart has supported youth activists in the following ways:

  • work with the city to help community-wide Feasibility study;
  • connect through it skate city, Public artist with experience in skate park advocacy and youth leadership development;
  • Creation of pop-up skate parks and temporary public art elements;
  • Planning a skate park excursion to Minneapolis to evaluate the elements that should be included in Rhinelander’s parks.
  • create Youth Arts Studio Space in ArtStart;
  • Help Over It Will Acquire 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit Status;
  • Connect with other community-wide mental health resources Pool resources, advocate and raise awareness.
  • Connecting young people with mentors for local artists;
  • Connect Youth with Training Opportunities Design, podcasting, video and audio production.

As a result of this partnership and the work of Over It, The city drew up preliminary plans for a new skate park. “We hope that we can help people with their mental health and show them that they are not alone,” says Over It member Angel Quant. The city has allocated a base amount of money from the city budget and will soon launch a fundraising campaign. After partnering with ArtStart, the project was expanded to include more local and statewide partners, providing more resources and more opportunities for community involvement.

Why should cities care about playing a role in the mental health of young people in their communities?

“Teenage is crucial for developing empathy, building a sense of community, and discovering ways to overcome challenges. [sends] A clear message that we care about what they care about will only foster stronger relationships with future leaders. ”

Rhinelander Council President and District 7 Alderman Eileen Daniel

“[Mental health issues] It affects many young people and teens. Being aware of the red flags and what to look out for could save someone’s life. ”

Over It member Victoria Achterberg, 19

How can other smaller cities and regional cities get started on this journey?

  • Connect with your local healthcare systemparticularly in community health centers, to understand the extent of care needs and current barriers.
  • Connect with community-based organizationsarts and cultural institutions, and other community service and educational nonprofits, to understand the potential for developing local resources and existing activities.
  • Work with a public or non-profit local arts agency in your cityartists, creative arts therapists and arts and culture organizations to identify, support and help build their capacity.
  • Determine the priority of actions. How can your city help meet needs or reduce barriers? Consider the following. Development of talent development initiatives. Increase public facilities to support social cohesion. Supports recognition of existing resources.Supporting the expansion of telemedicine services
  • find a source of fundingincluding new federal resources that could be used to expand mental health services.
  • Let’s connect with NLC! e-mail for more information.

In rural areas, leveraging resources and partnerships is key. Civic engagement and the arts go hand in hand and can address pressing issues and community challenges by raising awareness, bringing people together, and creating opportunities to think outside the box about how things get done. It often happens. “The key lies in collaboration and partnership. Know where your goals align and leverage each partner’s strengths.”

[1] Tortola, Owen, McCoy, Catherine, Frederick and Carl. 2021 “Oneida County 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results (High School Edition)”. Madison: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

author: Georgia Gempler (NLC), Melinda Childs (Art Start), Jordyn Fink (Marshfield Clinic Health System), Carrie Mikalowski (Rhinlander City Councilman), Malete Wester (For the Arts) Americans)

About the author

About the author

Georgia Gempler is a Senior Program Specialist in Health and Wellness, Leadership, Education, Progress and Development for the National League of Cities.

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