Report: Art Thou Well? Global insights into how creativity can benefit mental health

Published: 20 Jun 2018

Author: Kat Taylor
Report: Art Thou Well? Global insights into how creativity can benefit mental health

The arts can be used to save money in health and social care services, according to a new report by clinical psychologist Dr Kat Taylor, who travelled to Finland and the USA last year to research outstanding examples of support for mental health through arts and culture. Her travels were enabled by a Churchill Fellowship.

The links between the arts and wellbeing are now well established and across the UK there is increasing activity around the arts and mental health. This field is comprehensively reviewed in a 2016 report, Creative Health, published by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

Kat works for the NHS in Manchester. Greater Manchester is the UK’s first city region to make the arts and culture integral to its health strategy and the region of ten boroughs is developing exciting work, building on Manchester’s reputation as a forerunner for social change. Kat wanted to use her Fellowship to seek out initiatives in Finland and the USA that could inform the work Greater Manchester is developing in this area.

Kat Taylor

Kat (pictured left) visited over 40 organisations across Finland and the US, including arts and cultural organisations, health organisations, third sector and psychology research departments, and EU Parliament Special Advisory Groups.

A highlight from Kat’s trip was visiting Culture Club in Jyvaskyla, Finland, a peer-led service model which has repurposed clinical spaces to provide opportunities for skills development and hopeful approaches to recovery. It is an example of how the arts and cultural engagement have become embedded in the Finnish healthcare system to tackle issues such as loneliness and mental ill health.

Kat’s report, ‘Art Thou Well? Towards Creative Devolution of Mental Health’ presents Kat’s key learning from her travels and aims to inform improvements in UK services. A key theme emerging from the report is the versatility of the arts in healthcare settings.

“Care Quality Standards highlight patient choice as a priority for clinical services. This choice can be delivered by the almost unlimited range of access points provided by the arts, which can offer a service suited to everyone”, said Kat.

The report also stresses that arts interventions can deliver value for money and do not run the risk of causing harm.

“Patient representative groups, the UN and the WHO all stress the need to reduce the use of medication in mental health care provision, with its association with serious side effects and increased mortality. The arts offer safer, less expensive alternatives”, said Kat.

Kat has shared her findings with Greater Manchester’s Central Clinical Care Commission group and other groups working to embed the arts in healthcare in Greater Manchester. She also plans to share her report with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing and the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance.

Agreement has recently been reached for Kat to develop long-term working partnerships between local arts organisations and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to co-produce creativity and wellbeing workshops for vulnerable and at-risk children.

Read Kat’s report

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