The healing power of art
Bangladeshi children and youth share their journey to better mental health
Artistic activity such as painting, drawing, photography and poetry can play an important role in fostering mental health and well-being. Not only does the creative outlet help to channel feelings that can be difficult to express. It also reduces stress and anxiety by forming a healthy distraction from everyday worries, while at the same time boosting self-awareness, self-esteem, and a sense of satisfaction.
On that note, UNICEF Bangladesh sparked a conversation with its young audience about how they take care of their mental health. While some shared illustrations about the issues that moved them, others submitted poems that allowed them to reveal their emotions. Additionally, there were submissions of photography and paintings that expressed the artists’ creativity.
This is a selection of some of the inspiring artwork shared with us on social media using the hashtag #OnMyMind.
“Harvesting hope” by Zaima Rahman, 15
“Even though it is winter, and the boats stand still on the dry grass, there is still green paddy. The farmers await with a smile full of hope for the rice. Winter will turn into spring, moisture will settle in, and the boats will sail again with the rice to the city. No matter what happens in our lives, how empty we feel, there is always hope. We still set alarms for the next day – that’s hope. There is hope in every corner; we just have to know it. Time will heal, and we will know the true meaning of life – to be hopeful, to love, and to give,” relates 15-year-old Zaima on the idea of hope with this beautiful metaphor on farming.
“A gateway to imagination” by Nusrat Binti, 22
“Through drawing, I can clearly express the world only inside my imagination," says Nusrat, 22, who finds that painting is a beautiful way to clear her mind and make her feel more confident.
“Saving the angels” by Nusrat Mim, 24
“Every parent should inform and warn young members of the family about the acts of violence committed against children even if we may not be able to identify all the culprits straight away,” says Nusrat, 24, through this powerful and heart-wrenching message on the dangers out there that keep her up at night.
“Battling with a brush” by Tasfia Ismat Athey, 16
“If you are battling anxiety, take a brush and paint whatever your mind wants. It works like medicine against depression, stress, or anxiety,” advises Tasfia, 16, who finds a safe haven from the chaos of life in her artwork.
“What lies ahead” by Nehla Binte Hasan, 16
Sometimes, we tend to overthink and be oblivious to the many distressing things that are occurring in the world. Nehla, 16, penned this poem to reflect on how the myriad worries she bears amounts to little when compared with the millions starving.
“Mind your plastic” by Minhazul Islam Mahib, 18
“Your plastic waste may end up destroying a beach far away,” says Minhazul, 18, who uses the powerful medium of photography to take action by capturing the issues that bear down on him and sharing widely on social media.
“She's just stuck in her head” by Urmila Shetu, 21
“I was passionate about art since childhood. It helped me to reduce stress. I started doing it more during the COVID-19 lockdown. I used to get depressed easily during that time as I was away from normal life. So, art helped me to forget about stress and anxiety, improved my vision and insights about life, and turned me into a more confident person,” says Urmila, 21, who expresses her feelings about the pandemic in this innovative digital artwork.
“Reveal” by Tahziba Tawhid Gunjan, 7
"Through art, I share my feelings. It helps me tell the world what's bothering me, and most importantly, I can spread love to all and stay cheerful," says seven-year-old Tahziba in this cartoon about her inner battle against bullies and abuse in her life.
“Revival” by Nuzhat Tabassum Cin, 16
"When my mind is fully blank, I try to draw or paint something. In this way, I feel refreshed before I sit down to study,” says 16-year-old Nuzhat on finding in art a path to prepare herself for the pressure of grueling homework that await highschoolers once they get home.
“Tired of anxiety, loneliness and depression” by Asif Rahman, 18
“Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are now a big problem for children, teenagers, and adults,” says Asif, 18, who takes to the streets with his photography to learn more about the people around him who are going through mental health challenges.
“Plant more trees” by Sutapa Prova Banik, 13
“I take care of my mental health by painting. I also try to reflect my concern for the environment in my art. For a healthy life, we should all plant more trees,” says Sutapa, 13, on how she cultivates environmental awareness in her artwork.
“Mindful eye” by Fabiha Jannat, 16
“Art helps turn my imagination into reality,” says Fabiha Jannat, 16, whose secret to dealing with the pressures of life is to keep her my mind fresh through the metaphors she creates with her paintings.
“Perspective” by Tomal Das, 20
“I started taking photos about five years ago. Now, it has become a part of my daily life. Busying myself with a creative activity helps me deal with depression and anxiety,” says 20-year-old Tomal Das, who strives to capture life and light in all their shapes and forms as a representation of his thoughts in a photo frame.
“Shatchakra” by Niladry Shekhor Roy , 22
"Art is an emotionally liberating way for the mind to relax and let go of all the difficulties that lead to a high level of stress. In addition to stimulating the creative mind, those who paint, those who write, and those who sing facilitate the relief of mental tension,” says Niladry Shekhor Roy, 22, on how art can help elevate our mental health.