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Mental Health Arts Festival demonstrates link between art and mental health

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Mental Health Arts Festival kicked off in Santa Barbara after a 2 year hiatus. 

The rhythmic sound of drumming echoed throughout De la Guerra Plaza as tourists and locals browsed through the wide collection of paintings, jewelry, and sculptures.

Art helped many creatives like Taylor Meijer deal with the mental health struggles they faced during the pandemic. 

“We’ve been locked in for almost 2 years, so might as well do some art,” said artist Taylor Meijer

“Art is so integral to mental health and mental wellness. And I think that really shows here today. You can kind of see how these people can really express how they're feeling and the way that they view life through their artwork,” said Mental Wellness Center representative Sophie Pelletier. 

Musicians like Vicente Garcia shared the impact music has had on his mental health. 

“Music allows us to be in the present moment. When we are anxious, when we are depressed, we're not in the present moment. We're either living in the future or living in the memories of the past. But what music does is it helps us be here right now in the present moment,” said Vicente.

Vicente isn’t the only person who finds artistic expression therapeutic. Local artist Samantha Martinez shared her struggles with self harm, and how art helped her find an outlet for her mental health struggles. 

“The topics of anatomy, mental turmoil, anything that goes on inside of your head. I like to put that on paper and just Just be real with what I'm feeling on the inside, said Samantha Martinez. 

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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