Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Amy S. Osatinski


This thesis explores the effects of participation in theatre on mental health in high school students. Though there has been more research since 2008 on mental health and its relation to the arts, there have been very few focused on mental health and theatre. However, the majority of these studies are centered around adults or young children. There is a lack of research centered around the impacts that theatre and drama have on the mental health of high school students. This study specifically focused on college students at the University of Northern Iowa and their reflection on their time in high school in hopes of gaining insight into how theatre can impact the mental health of those in high school. A voluntary survey taken by students at the University of Northern Iowa revealed that 75% of students found theatre only positively impacted their mental health while 15% found participation in drama and theatre only negatively impacted their mental health. These results revealed the negative impacts were due to the high expectations and stress that the adult in the room, such as a director or speech coach, placed on the high schoolers. However, the participants whose mental health was positively impacted by theatre and drama stated what it was due to the director, coach, and the environment that they created. Other participants shared that the escape that theatre allowed had a positive impact on their mental health. This data shows that high school theatre and drama programs can be a support for students who are struggling with mental health, if those in charge do not place too much pressure on the students.

Year of Submission



Department of Theatre

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

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