Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN)



First Advisor

Joyce P. Miller DNP, RN

Second Advisor

Kristin McHale DNP, RN

Third Advisor

Christy Secor, DNP, RN


Initiative-taking disease prevention and health promotion strategies are foundations of public health that nurses have the power to support. Yet, mental illnesses like anxiety and depression have in the past often been a low priority or overlooked, leading to harmful effects on all aspects of a person's health. This thesis dives into the future, describing and explicating a nurse-led pilot project inspired by Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring to support healing among young women in the Minneapolis community struggling specifically with anxiety and depression. Each session, held at a local college art room, is composed of a combination of art therapy, community support, education, and connection to resources, which merge to advance the project's goals. Data has been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports to ensure evidence-based implementation of sensitive, positive healing sessions. Effective interventions are ensured by understanding historical and cultural perspectives that combine with healing and protective methods. To uphold holistic healing, Jean Watson's Caring Theory promotes truly empathetic approaches. To create a safe, welcoming space, the literature examines social, emotional, and physical aspects along with how to allow for vulnerability and protect against shame. It explores how to build positive states of mind like hope, joy, and peace to promote mental wellness. To achieve effective, long-lasting education and harmless resource support, it explores the concept of autonomy, including the role of power, risk, and cultural humility. Finally, it explores how the creative process reaches across cultural, language, and processing boundaries as well as physical, social, and spiritual barriers to uphold the use of art as a gateway to healing. Before the pilot project can be realized, I discuss the need for further partnership establishment, the formation of educational materials, and solidifying connections to resources. Then, as the project takes place, critical appraisal strategies to measure its effectiveness is discussed. This pilot project has the potential to meet challenges and needs faced by women in the Minneapolis community in a unique, creative way that moves beyond traditional public health interventions for anxiety and depression.


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