Mental Health Perceptions from Artwork

  • Alexei Sammut Department of Mental Health, University of Malta, Malta
  • Paulann Grech Department of Mental Health, University of Malta, Malta
  • Michael Galea Department of Mental Health, University of Malta, Malta
  • Margaret Mangion The Edward de Bono Institute for Creative Thinking and Innovation, University of Malta, Malta
  • Josianne Scerri Department of Mental Health, University of Malta, Malta
Keywords: aesthetics, mental health, artwork


The relationship between artwork and mental health has been the subject of various research endeavours. Whilst artwork has been long used as a means of emotional expression, it is also a method of raising mental health awareness. In this study, an art collection was presented to depict the challenges faced by many individuals living with a mental illness. Through a series of open-ended questions, twenty-nine participants were requested to give a title to each piece and to describe the perceived message and emotions related to each painting. The thematic analysis process of the participants’ descriptions led to the identification of three themes, namely those of Darkness, Solitude and Recovery. Whilst congruence was often observed between the participants themselves and between the viewers and the artist, discrepancies were also noted. Artwork can be an important medium in addressing stigma and in guiding reflections on mental health topics.


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