In the last year, we’ve fought for toilet paper, suffered bad cases of “maskne”, became Zoom experts, and used more hand sanitizer than ever before. We’ve missed weddings and funerals, lost jobs, quarantined alone, lost loved ones, and dealt with the debilitating side effects of COVID-19. 2020 was a year for the record books. The last year has been especially hard for young adults. Anyone who has gone to college knows how stressful it can be. But try college during a global pandemic. A recent survey study found that since the beginning of the pandemic, 71% of college students experienced increased stress, anxiety, depressive thoughts, and difficulty in concentrating; 89% reported disruptions in sleeping patterns; 86% have decreased social interactions; and 82% reported increased concerns with academic performance.
In 2018, over 6,000 students utilized BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for help with anxiety, depression, and other worries, according to Y Magazine. But since then, that number has only grown. The CDC found in a recent study that mental illness, substance abuse, and suicide ideation have all increased in large part due to the immense threat the coronavirus presents, but also due to political and social unrest, natural disasters, stay-at-home orders and physical distancing. The need for psychological help is greater now than ever.
In his 2020 devotional, BYU President Kevin Worthen said, “...we are in more need of...unifying power than perhaps at any time in our lifetimes, not only to weather the pandemic storm but also to address pressing issues like social justice, poverty, racism, and angry divisiveness and intolerance in political and other matters.”
In a world that feels broken, students yearn for connection, healing, empathy, and hope. And that’s where art comes in. Art has the power to heal, the power to connect us, the power to help us understand ourselves and the world. A recent psychology publication said it well: “Art, either creating it or viewing others' art, is used to help people explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills.”
According to Y Magazine, BYU only has one full-time mental health specialist per 1,100 students (and they do an excellent job; we don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting them). BYU’s Museum of Art offers an additional refuge and a safe haven for students to come and heal at any time during their most stressful days. We are open six days a week and admission is free to all guests. The BYU Museum of Art invites all to come and find healing and connection.
Artwork: Abbott H. Thayer (1849-1921), Noon, 1921, oil on canvas, 91 x 59 1/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1998.
Guest Post by MOA Film Student Sadie Harris