Adobe Foundation and NAMI release new study showing the powerful connection between creativity and mental health
In the U.S., one in five adults and one in six youth experience a mental health condition each year. And nearly one billion people globally live with a mental health disorder, with more than 75 percent of those people not receiving treatment. These are just a few indicators of the growing mental health crisis and the increased demand for support and resources that significantly impacts youth, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.
With mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and loneliness on the rise, the Adobe Foundation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have joined forces to explore the connection between mental health, wellbeing and creative expression. As part of this collaboration, the Adobe Foundation and NAMI released a new study, ‘Creative Approaches for Managing Mental Health’, which surveyed nearly 2,000 people ages 13+ across the U.S. on how creativity makes an powerful impact on mental health, contributing to improved sense of confidence, reduced feelings of stress or anxiety and improved overall mental wellbeing.
At Adobe, we recognize the opportunity to empower creative expression as a pathway to impact positive mental health outcomes for our community, and through the Adobe Foundation and efforts with NAMI, our goal is to illuminate our commitment toward better understanding the role creative expression plays in supporting mental health outcomes and giving more people access to the resources and tools they need to share their stories and reach their full potential.
The findings from the survey are key to helping us pave the way for even more programs and collaborations that provide the necessary tools, resources and support to those who need it most during this critical time. Creativity has the power to change the world in big and small ways. It’s what unites us, helps us cope, inspires us and drives positive change int he world. And we believe that creativity is just one of the ways we can help to open new pathways and to support the mental health crisis and we recognize the important opportunity we have to make a positive impact on mental health outcomes for our community with Adobe Foundation and NAMI.
The insights gained from this research will help to shape future strategies for both the Adobe Foundation and NAMI and we hope that it provides the necessary evidence for the future of mental health support.
Flexing creativity and actively creating
- 60% of respondents reported currently engaging in a creative activity. Engagement is more common among young people (aged 13-25) at 72%, compared to 59% of the general adult population (age 18+).
- Current creative activity was notably high among respondents with LGBTQ+ identities — 75% of LGBTQ+ respondents, and 76% of transgender and nonbinary respondents reported current engagement, compared to 58% of heterosexual and 60% of cisgender respondents.
Experiencing strong personal mental health benefits when creating
- Among the general population, the top potential benefits of engaging in creativity were improved sense of confidence in one’s abilities (63%), reduced feelings of stress or anxiety (61%) and improved overall mental well-being (57%). The top personal motivations for respondents to begin creating were desire to reduce stress or anxiety (41%) and desire to express thoughts or feelings (38%).
- The personal desires that most motivated respondents aged 13–25 to start creating were desire to reduce stress or anxiety (46%, vs. 41% of all adults) and desire to express thoughts or feelings (44%, vs. 38% of adults).
- The top personal motivations for LGBTQ+ respondents to start creating were desire to reduce stress or anxiety (53% vs. 39% of heterosexuals) and desire to express thoughts or feelings (49% vs. 36%).
- LGBTQ+ respondents were more likely than heterosexual respondents to say that reduced feelings of depression or hopelessness (57% vs. 44%) and the possibility to develop a sense of belonging in a community (42% vs. 31%) were potential benefits of engaging in a creative activity.
Community is critical when it comes to finding inspiration and support
- Communal aspects of creativity were woven throughout the survey, with 35% of all respondents indicating that they were motivated to start creating due to inspiration from friends or family who already engaged in the activity. More than one-quarter (27%) of creators also said they engage in their creative activity socially, with a group of fellow creators or artists.
Our on-going commitment to mental health initiatives
Adobe and the Adobe Foundation joining together with industry organizations who share our commitment towards positive mental wellbeing, like the Ad Council, JED Foundation and United Global Mental Health Action Network, to provide resources for support, and open new pathways for more people to create.
To raise awareness about the mental health struggles our youth face, and ways to start and sustain supportive conversations, the Seize The Awkward campaign, a joint effort between the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), The Jed Foundation (JED) and the Ad Council, and Adobe are coming together to create content and resources that make it easier for young people to connect and support people close to them who may be facing mental health challenges.
Join the conversation online to promote mental health awareness. Start creating today with our Adobe x Let’s Talk About Mental Health Adobe Express templates by Jessica Walsh, using the hashtag #MadeWithAdobeExpress and be on the lookout for AMAs we’ll be co-hosting on @Adobe in July as a part of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to destigmatize the conversation around mental health and hear from individuals like Jessica Walsh on how they use creativity to improve their wellbeing.
Adobe Express is an all-in-one content creation app that makes it fast, easy and fun for anyone to design and share standout social media posts, videos, images, PDFs, flyers, logos and more.
Methodology: The “Creative Approaches for Managing Mental Health” survey was conducted April 13–May 10, 2023, by NORC at the University of Chicago. It included interviews with 1,897 respondents age 13+
The National Alliance on Mental Illnessis the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Join the conversation at NAMI.org| Facebook.com/nami| Instagram.com/namicommunicate| Twitter.com/namicommunicate| TikTok.com/@nami| LinkedIn.com/company/nami| YouTube.com/NAMIvideo