Arts and wellbeing

The arts have been central to all human civilizations and endeavours. The arts help us to feel and to share what it is to be alive. By giving us new ways of looking at our experience, the arts can help us to make sense of life and so play a vital role in our wellbeing. Ivan Lewis, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Care Services 2008, recently said this about the arts: 

"A recent study by the Department of Health and the Department for Media Culture and Sport (‘Mental Health, social inclusion and the arts: developing the evidence base’) has shown that as a result of participating in the arts, there were significant improvements in empowerment, mental health and social inclusion for people with mental health problems. Participating in the arts increases self esteem, self confidence and feelings of empowerment and reduces social isolation by broadening social networks." 

We can benefit from the arts by both taking part and as spectators. Visiting galleries, concerts, theatres or cinemas can transform the way we feel. This effect is often increased if we go with others and share the experience. Research has shown that listening to or viewing the arts even helps our wellbeing on a physical level. 

Dancing, acting, singing or painting etc. can all be deeply satisfying and great fun. Sadly, many have been criticised when they were younger and this leaves people thinking they are not good enough to do art themselves. However, arts organisations are increasingly sensitive to this and spend time helping people to feel more confident so that they can take part. 

More Than Words

The very best way to understand the power of the arts is to hear from people who use them in their lives. The More Than Words project uses people’s own artworks to describe how the arts help them.

View the More Than Words page here.

Contact us

For more information about the arts and wellbeing, please contact:

Neil Springham. Consultant Art Therapist and Trust Wide Head of Art Therapy

Email: neil.springham@nhs.net