Mental health and arts participation: The state of the art in England

Department of Nursing, University of Central Lancashire, 317 Brook, Preston PR1 2HE.
The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health (Impact Factor: 0.41). 06/2006; 126(3):121-7. DOI: 10.1177/1466424006064301
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although participation in arts activity is believed to have important mental health and social benefits for people with mental health needs, the evidence base is currently weak. This article reports the first phase of a study intended to support the development of stronger evidence. Objectives for the first phase were to map current participatory arts activity, to identify appropriate indicators and to develop measures for use in the second phase of the research. A survey of participatory arts projects for people with mental health needs aged 16 to 65 in England, identified via the Internet and relevant organizations, was carried out to map the scale and scope of activity and to establish the nature of current approaches to evaluation. The results indicate that the scope of activity, in terms of projects' settings, referral sources, art forms and participation is impressively wide. In terms of scale, however, projects reported low funding and staffing levels that may have implications for the feasibility of routine evaluation in this field. Current approaches to evaluation were limited, but entailed considerable effort and ingenuity, suggesting that projects are keen to demonstrate their benefits. The survey has enabled us to build on the best evaluation practice identified to develop a measure for assessing the mental health, social inclusion and empowerment outcomes of arts participation for people with mental health needs. For the second phase of the study we will work with arts and mental health projects, using the measure alongside qualitative work in a realistic evaluation design, in order to identify the characteristics of effective projects.

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Available from: Helen Spandler, Sep 28, 2015
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    • "Furthermore, museums , art galleries and other cultural resources are now being regarded as promoting public health (Camic and Chatterjee, 2013). A number of literature reviews have summarised evidence about the benefits of visual art-making for health and well-being, in medical contexts (Staricoff, 2004; Stuckey and Nobel, 2010), for people with mental health problems (Hacking et al., 2006; Heenan, 2006; Leckey, 2011; Spandler et al., 2007) and older people (Castora-Binkley et al., 2010). "
    Arts & Health 06/2015; DOI:10.1080/17533015.2015.1046891
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    • "The project also appears to have had a profound impact on participants' sense of connectedness and social support, which aligns with existing research that links communitybased arts participation to improved social connectedness and mental health (Hacking et al. 2006). Research on community resilience in the face of disaster, highlights the critical role of social capital to enhancing resilience, including networking, social support, and community bonds (Norris et al. 2008), all of which appear to have been enhanced by this project according to the first person accounts. "
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    ABSTRACT: Suicide is a preventable public health problem and a leading cause of death in the United States. Despite recognized need for community-based strategies for suicide prevention, most suicide prevention programs focus on individual-level change. This article presents seven first person accounts of Finding the Light Within, a community mobilization initiative to reduce the stigma associated with suicide through public arts participation that took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 2011 through 2012. The stigma associated with suicide is a major challenge to suicide prevention, erecting social barriers to effective prevention and treatment and enhancing risk factors for people struggling with suicidal ideation and recovery after losing a loved one to suicide. This project engaged a large and diverse audience and built a new community around suicide prevention through participatory public art, including community design and production of a large public mural about suicide, storytelling and art workshops, and a storytelling website. We present this project as a model for how arts participation can address suicide on multiple fronts-from raising awareness and reducing stigma, to promoting community recovery, to providing healing for people and communities in need.
    American Journal of Community Psychology 06/2013; 52(1-2). DOI:10.1007/s10464-013-9581-7 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    • "A range of reviews over the past 20 years have summarised the body of evaluation literature on arts and health initiatives as rarely academically robust (Angus, 2002; Daykin, Orme, Evans & Salmon, 2008; Hacking et al., 2006; Matarasso, 1997; South, 2004; Staricoff, 2004; Stuckey & Nobel, 2010; White & Angus, 2003) and thus weak in the justification and support they can offer a nascent discipline. The literature shows almost universal calls from authors for higher-quality studies investigating impacts from arts and health activity (Argyle & Bolton, 2005; Clift et al., 2009; Daykin et al., 2008; Dileo & Bradt, 2009; Hamilton et al., 2003; Macnaughton et al., 2005; Sonke et al., 2009; Staricoff, 2004; White, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The field of arts and health, and associated academic discussion, is beset by a number of interlinked challenges which make it vulnerable to academic dismissal or, at best, poor visibility. One of these is a preoccupation with developing an evidence base of impact. This is compounded by resistance to definitions, disagreement over what constitutes appropriate evidence of success and inadequate consideration of the mechanisms of arts and health practice, as opposed to outcomes. We argue that increased attention should be paid to the description, analysis and theorising of the practice itself as the basis upon which the findings of impact studies can be understood and accepted. A literature review identifies some important emerging themes in community arts and health practice and some lacunae in need of further investigation. We conclude that an interdisciplinary theoretical framework for the practice could make a valuable contribution to the academic status of the field.
    Arts & Health 06/2012; 4(2-2):97-108. DOI:10.1080/17533015.2011.619991
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