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CNY high schooler hosts virtual art therapy program for youth struggling with their mental health

Ana Dentler's art therapy activity "My Past and Future Hands" shows drawings of past life experiences on one hand and drawings of future plans on the other.
Ana Dentler
This is Ana Dentler's one of activities called "My Past and Future Hands art activity".

A 16-year-old Girl Scout is bringing aid to youth struggling with their mental health and awarness to the issue. Ana Dentler hopes her virtual art therapy program will lessen the stress of her peers.

“It’s kind of like a mixed message when school is a source of a lot of stress and negative mental health like with a lot of school work and especially juniors and seniors with college, so I kind of wanted to create a class that would talk about mental health but wouldn’t be also like a stressful thing on its own,” Dentler said.

This week the US Preventative Services Task Force recommended all children 8 to 18 be screened for anxiety, as youth face new and existing stressor during the pandemic. Dentler’s program, Crafts & Care, is meant to use art therapy as a measure for participants to de-stress.

She wants it to be a relaxing space where people can learn tools for dealing with feelings of anxiety or sadness. Her curriculum will include activities like “The Worry Tree” and “My Past And Future Hands”.

An example of an art therapy activity called "The Worry Tree."
Ana Dentler
“The Worry Tree”

“… with the art therapy it's just very simple things that anybody can do. It can be relaxing and you don’t have to worry about it being perfect or just this great master piece,” said Dentler. “It can just be for fun.”

The eight week program will start on April 25. Dentler plans to hand this program off to the Boys & Girls Club in Massachusetts, her home state. She hopes the non-profit will continue the work in supporting youth and their mental health.