Just how important is teen self-expression through art?
A recent study published by arts.gov found that visual arts students reported significantly higher levels of school attendance than did non-visual arts students.
Furthermore, for every year of arts study, there was a 20% reduction in the likelihood that an adolescent would receive an out-of-school suspension.
This healthy attendance is certainly something you’ll find at an arts academy high school. After all, feeling safe to express yourself as you are is serious motivation.
But the benefits of self-expression go beyond just attendance.
Teen Self-Expression Through Art Is Crucial
There is currently a nationwide epidemic of depression and anxiety among adolescents. Public schools are doing their best to institute counseling and outreach programs. And there’s community support that helps to raise awareness and educate teens about self-care.
But then there’s art.
It’s crucial that teens are given the opportunity to express themselves using their inherent creativity. Self-expression through art is proven to relieve stress and significantly decrease anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Plus, doing so promotes students’ interest in school while boosting overall happiness in other aspects of their lives.
Creating Art Heals Pain
Nearly everyone has had the experience of listening to music and tapping into some visceral inner experience. That experience goes even deeper when you engage in the act of creating. You become acutely aware of what’s happening within.
Furthermore, when you create any sort of art and then put it out into the world, it gives others the opportunity to explore your inner landscape. They care about you and you feel a sense of belonging. You may even feel loved.
That’s some heavy stuff.
It makes sense though. Art gives us a way to take a painful thought out of our heads and put it onto a page or into a drawing, painting, or performance. It thereby releases the emotions around that thought and gives it less power.
Art offers the freedom to play and to use our hands. It also gives us a language that needs no interpretation. Every human being speaks it.
To deny anyone this freedom to create – especially teens – is to create a potential human time bomb.
The Dangers of Unexpressed Pain
Here’s a scary statistic.
Anxiety and depression are clearly the most common mental health concerns for adolescents. Yet surveys have found that 80% of teens with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60% of those who are depressed never receive treatment.
In fact, a recent survey conducted by Kaiser Permanente found 55% of people view depression as a personal weakness. What’s worse, 24% of millennials believe most people can simply get over it without any sort of professional intervention.
This sort of stigma is silencing. Particularly for adolescents.
Being a teenager is hard enough. But for those who feel closed off and like outcasts, it can be excruciating. They don’t feel they have any safe space where they can express the pain they’re feeling.
And if they try to express themselves by changing their outward appearance, they often get shut down even harder.
Giving Permission to Be As You Are
One of the biggest benefits of an arts academy high school is the sense of belonging without having to “fit in.”
As teens experiment with different ways of expressing themselves, it sometimes shows up as piercings, tattoos, wild hair colors, unique clothing choices, etc. In conventional schools, kids who step too far off the beaten path are made to feel inferior or even bullied.
At schools where learning through the arts is the focus, however, there is no beaten path. Students are encouraged to do what makes them feel happy and comfortable in their skin. They are even celebrated for it.
Preventing teens from experiencing this sense of confidence at the age of fourteen or fifteen can have detrimental effects later in life. It’s more difficult to do this sort of soul searching after graduation when life has new requirements such as establishing a career or family.
Another issue that can result from not allowing teens to express themselves through different parts of their appearance is anxiety. They are likely to feel insecure about how they look as they enter adulthood. Plus, the message they’re receiving is that they should hide who they are.
In other words, who they are is not acceptable.
Expression through outward appearance is really just another form of art. And just as with other creative ventures, establishing a certain expressive style and look has the ability to release trauma, disappointment, and fear – taking power away from these feelings.
Give Your Creative Teen a Chance to Shine
It can be tough watching your child transition into the difficult teenage years. Just know that allowing rather than denying your teen self-expression through art will make it go so much more smoothly.
If your creative teen is currently struggling in a conventional school setting, consider the above benefits of an arts academy high school education.
Contact us today to find out more about our unique curriculum that allows students to explore who they are and to celebrate being themselves. Let them be comfortable in their skin.