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New APA Poll: Americans Who Engage in Creative Activities at Least Weekly Report Better Mental Health

  • July 06, 2023

Washington, D.C. — About half (46%) of Americans use creative activities to relieve stress or anxiety, such as playing the piano, crocheting a blanket, dancing with friends or solving crossword puzzles. Americans who rate their mental health as very good or excellent tend to engage in creative activities more frequently than those who rate their mental health as fair or poor.

These are among the many findings of July’s Healthy Minds Monthly Poll* on creativity and mental health. The poll was fielded by Morning Consult June 15-18, 2023, among a sample of 2,202 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

More than three in four (77%) American adults rated their mental health as good or better, up from 63% at the beginning of the year. Adults who reported very good or excellent mental health (71%) engage in creative activities more frequently than those that reported good (50%) or fair or poor (46%) mental health.

“We live in stressful times, and sometimes our jobs and responsibilities can drain our energy and our mental health,” said APA President Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A. “Creative activities aren’t just for fun, they can help us take a step back from the daily grind, use our brains differently, and relax. Picking up that paintbrush or solving a tricky puzzle can truly move us to a different mindset.”

Most of those polled said they engaged in creative activities in their free time (65%), and 46% said they did so to relieve stress and anxiety. Others did so when they were bored (37%), while working (19%), or in times of crisis (14%).

When asked which creative activities they used to relieve stress and anxiety, adults reported a variety of interests:

  • Listening to music: 77%
  • Solving puzzles: 39%
  • Singing or dancing: 25%
  • Drawing, painting or sculpting: 24%
  • Crafting: 19%
  • Creative writing: 16%

Further, 15% attend concerts, 14% create online content for fun, 13% play a musical instrument, 9% visit an art museum, and 11% reported other activities such as gardening or cooking.

“Creative activities are an excellent way to express oneself and to take some time off from the everyday routine,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “When we think about positive actions that boost our mental health, creative pastimes are along the lines of talking to friends, walking in nature, and exercising, among other good options. APA is pleased to call attention to these positive actions as part of the public discussion on mental health.”

*APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly tracks timely mental health issues throughout the year, see past Healthy Minds Monthly polls. For a copy of the results, contact [email protected].

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA's vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit

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