The Relationship Between Art and Health

Nov 4, 2021

UMD public health students raise awareness about the role of the arts in health.

A growing body of research suggests that the arts have a positive impact on health and well-being. UMD public health students have been examining this topic and are sharing their knowledge this month to celebrate International Arts in Health Month.

Ladona Tornabene—Associate Professor

Ladona Tornabene, associate professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences, has long been passionate about art and health. It led her to design the “Arts in Public and Community Health” course at UMD.

The new class delves into this growing discipline and the ways that engaging with the arts can improve well-being as well as assist in disease prevention and treatment. This is reinforced by the increased emphasis that the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control are placing on how the arts promote/impact health, according to Tornabene.

Students from the class prepared a month-long series of educational social media posts to raise awareness about art in health. The content illustrates the broad impact the arts can have, from helping people to establish healthier eating habits to suicide prevention and the promotion of justice and equity.

A UMD student photo contest is also happening in the first two weeks of November. The contest is organized by public health student Hope Krumrei, who is the 2021-22 Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Collegiate Champion for UMD. Her role involves organizing events to promote topics in public health on campus, along with her fellow student and SOPHE mentor Amy Harris.

Arts in Health Month: November is International Arts in Health Month! "Using the arts to promote, maintain, or improve wellbeing."

The pair brainstormed the idea for the photo contest where students submit photos that illustrate how art impacts their health. As an incentive, they’re offering a $50 gift card to Bulldog Pizza for the winning submission.

“A picture is worth 1000 words, you can say a lot with images,” Krumrei says, adding that she’s looking forward to seeing the different interpretations of how art impacts people throughout the UMD community.

“Art can be very powerful,” she says. “And art is connected to health in ways we can’t always necessarily see.”

Watch the SOPHE Collegiate Champion Facebook and Instagram pages in November for more contest details and to see projects from the Arts in Community and Public Health course.

About the Public Health program.