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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Club profile: Art for Mental Health

Art for Mental Health members pose at one of their club meetings. Photo submitted by Vansh Khokhani / Mass Media Staff

It’s not a new concept that college students face large amounts of stress and often struggle with the highs and lows of mental health. However, an emerging concept is the idea that people can de-stigmatize these struggles, talk about them openly and support each other with the help of different coping mechanisms. Vansh Khokhani, UMass Boston sophomore, saw an opportunity to implement this ideology on campus and, in turn, formed the Art for Mental Health club—a place where students can reduce stress and anxiety through the therapeutic effects found in the creation of art. 

The club was founded in the spring of 2022, and is just starting to take off. Khokhani says the objectives of the club are to “control behaviors, process emotions, lessen tension and anxiety, and boost one’s self-worth.” According to the club’s Vice President, UMass Boston junior Madison Lemire, these goals are met through the use of “art in all forms as a therapy technique.” 

Lemire prefers the calming effects of painting, where she can clear her head and empty her thoughts with every brush stroke onto canvas and ceramic. This aids her mental health because she can “create something beautiful out of [her] own distress.” 

Sophomore member, Pari Vachhani, enjoys the medium of drawing and coloring to unwind. Vachhani says she can “communicate [her] emotions through art” and feels a sense of relief “after seeing what [she’s] created.” 

Besides working on art projects, members plan future events at meetings and are encouraged to share what art forms best soothe their psyche. Lemire assures that “all ideas are welcomed and valued,” and they hope to bring different perspectives into the club with increased student involvement. As fellow students, the members understand balancing the stress of school with life’s other responsibilities, and they use this camaraderie to form an accepting environment for each other. 

“I wanted to not only have a safe place to express my own feelings through art, but to provide that safe space to anyone on campus who needs it,” said Lemire. 

Khokhani created this club because he felt that himself and others “needed a space where people can feel themselves without any fear of being judged.” He hopes his club can lead students into self discovery, as they express themselves through art and uncover parts of themselves they might not know existed.  

“Making art may assist you in recognizing and acknowledging emotions that have been residing in your subconscious,” said Khokhani. 

Art for Mental Health truly strives to break down the stigmatization surrounding mental health. Instead of shying away from struggles like depression and anxiety, it works to create a space where students can feel safe enough to show these sides of themselves and release that tension in the creation of something unique and inspiring. 

“Students should feel comfortable acknowledging their mental health and can use this club as a positive, creative way to clear their heads,” said Lemire. 

The club is currently looking for new members, and they assure that no prior experience in art is required to join. Depending on member availability, the Art for Mental Health will be meeting on a weekly or biweekly basis. As the new club is just getting their footing, there is currently no set schedule for meetings. However, the officers are working on establishing a location and time that is suitable for all members, and they hope to finalize this soon. 

If you are interested in joining or staying updated with the Art for Mental Health Club, they can be reached through Instagram @amhc_umb and by email at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Skylar Bowman, Managing Editor