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Creative expression is helpful to healthy human development and recovery from mental distress. Formal arts therapies for people with mental health problems aim to help people draw on their inner, creative resources while exploring personal issues with a trained arts therapist in a safe, contained space, in order to achieve psychological change.
Arts therapies include Art, Dance Movement, Drama and Music. Practitioners are trained to post-graduate level and must be State Registered in order to practise.
More recently there has been growing interest in arts-in-health initiatives where the creative process itself is seen to have therapeutic value in promoting general well-being, including mental health. International and UK research has found that many people with mental health problems find arts therapies helpful, either on their own or as part of a range of therapies, which may include medication and talking treatments.
People who have used arts therapies say they provide a greater sense of choice and control than medication or talking therapies.
Catching life: the contribution of arts initiatives to recovery approaches in mental health Spandler H, Secker J, Kent L, Hacking S, Shenton J. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2007 Dec;14(8):791-9.This paper draws on a qualitative study that was undertaken as part of a national research study to assess the impact of participatory arts provision for people with mental health needs. It explores how arts and mental health projects may facilitate some of the key elements of what has been termed a 'recovery approach' in mental health. It is argued that it is precisely these elements--the fostering of hope, creating a sense of meaning and purpose, developing new coping mechanisms and rebuilding identities--which are hard to standardize and measure, yet may be the most profound and significant outcomes of participation in such projects. Therefore, in the context of a growing emphasis on recovery-orientated mental health services, while not necessarily being appropriate for all service users, arts and mental health initiatives could make an essential contribution to the future of mental health and social care provision.
The Arts and Mental Health: Creativity and Inclusion Hester Parr Department of Geography University of Dundee, 2007 This brief report documents some findings from an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research project (RES-000-27-0043) on the outcomes of arts work for participants of community arts projects that are specifically geared towards people with mental health problems. It draws on qualitative research conducted during 2004 and 2005 with ‘Art Angel’, Dundee and Project Ability’s ‘Trongate Studios’, Glasgow.
In Focus: Mental Health and the Arts Arts Council of Northern Ireland 2013 The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is shining a spotlight on positive mental health by encouraging more people to take part in the arts. Findings from the Central Research Agency’s 2012 General Population Survey have shown that participating in arts activities as part of a group helps build self-confidence, concentration and problem-solving skills.
Arts, mental health and social inclusion: developing the evidence base Jenny Secker, Professor in Mental Health, ARU: Arts, mental health and social inclusion: developing the evidence base.
Core Arts is an innovative leader in mental health creativity, cultural diversity and social enterprise. With no analytical or clinical agenda, their expansive programme and member led ethos focuses on what people can achieve, supporting them to increase their capacity for innovation and learning, problem solving, confidence and leadership skills. Run by professional artists, writers and musicians in their own right, some of whom have been through the psychiatric system themselves, creates a genuine, exciting atmosphere of mutual learning and shared experience.
Reflections Art in Health Charity promotes the creative talents of people with health problems generally, and mental health problems specifically to as wide an audience as possible. The pictures on this website and the accompanying Reflections Magazine both showcase the creative talents and art of people who have suffered mental distress, and others who are involved in the benefits the arts have for heallth, such as staff who work in the area, and people with other illnesses.
The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is one of Scotland's most diverse cultural events, covering everything from music, film and visual art to theatre, dance, and literature.
Healing arts: art and mental health in the Wellcome Library Among the riches of the Wellcome Library there are many books and pamphlets on the role of art in hospitals as well as texts documenting changing attitudes towards the link between art and mental health. We also hold a number of artworks made by hospital patients (psychiatric and others), that could be filed under the headline ‘Outsider Art’.