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Greater Manchester’s Arts, Culture and Mental Health Programme and your local child & family services


iTHRIVE is Greater Manchester’s transformation of children’s services, based on the solution-focussed national framework for CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). You can read an accessible summary of this model, known as THRIVE, here.

In March 2019, I joined Greater Manchester’s (GM) iTHRIVE Implementation team as Arts and Mental Health Innovation Programme Manager. Our survey on cultural and arts-provision is now available (link below). We are working strategically to implement arts-led interventions within and around child and adolescent mental health services. We hope to demonstrate that such options are effective, as available evidence indicates that arts-led interventions comprise empowering, safe and cost-effective approaches towards sustainable change in a young person’s recovery. This role supports the wider iTHRIVE team’s scope to improve access, broaden the clinical offer, increase patient choice, patient safety, and support quality.

Greater Manchester, Devolution and Innovation

GM is three years into one of the biggest health care reforms in the world today: Devolution Manc, under which the Health and Social Care Partnership is already achieved some impressive results.

Following my Fellowship in 2017, I was eager to implement the learning and innovation in the context of Devo Manc. My role includes sharing evidence, fostering links and innovation between the health and the arts sectors, and implementing and evaluating arts-led interventions. I still work in CAMHS, and hope that having one foot firmly planted in direct services will help me appreciate the challenges and opportunities you might encounter in understanding and implementing iTHRIVE.

THRIVE seeks to develop a common language not solely defined by health. Over the next 12 months, we’ll be working with Communities of Practice and GM leaders to make use of the vast and fascinating body of evidence surrounding the arts for health.

What You Can Expect From Visiting Art Thou Well

As this blog began to help me record and share my Fellowship, I am resuming the journey with similar aims to share research and practice, and encourage the changes we are working towards in our GM-iTHRIVE systems-wide approach. You can expect news, links, events, case studies, evidence and ideas to help you, your family or your team understand and work towards the changes supported by a THRIVE system.

Implementing THRIVE 

This month we are surveying communities of practice to add to our understanding of the current arts and health provision, your experiences – and your hopes.

We invite GM arts organisations to complete this survey:

and GM health organisations to complete this one:
I welcome any questions or thoughts. I can be contacted at:, and Tweet in this role as @communikatt
The team may be reached at

Read More…

For a metaphor that I find helpful in understanding and explaining THRIVE’s shift in thinking, Consultant Child Clinical Psychologist Elizabeth Gregory explores in her excellent blog, If Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services were a Country House. (All of her blogs are helpful in their attention to the nuances in the culture shift occuring in healthcare provision, particularly with regards to children’s services.

For a collection of short essays #OnDevo click here.

Featured photograph was taken in 2017 at the Mental Museum, at Helsinki’s old mental hospital, Lapinlahden Lahde, now a centre for mental well-being and cultural events. The image depicts an installation telling the story of a successful community effort to save the beautiful, coastal site from closure by planting 100,000 bulbs, waiting for them to flower, then circling the site holding hands.

I live in Lancaster and work in Lancaster & Morecambe CAMHS as a senior clinical psychologist, and across Greater Manchester managing the new Arts, Culture and Mental Health programme with GM i-THRIVE, part of the national transformation of children's services. This blog began to help record and share my 2017 Churchill Travelling Fellowship, following a research role at Arts for Health, Manchester Metropolitan University. My work in the field of arts and well-being came about in many converging ways. As a child I was interested in emotional well-being, and worked in mental health research as a graduate. I began clinical psychology training in 2010, and for my thesis studied the role of creativity in bipolar disorder, because of the known links, and partly due to my own experiences of engaging creatively to manage extremes of mood throughout my 20s. I have worked in several university psychology research departments including the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University, notable for its service user involvement, and on the Dementia & Imagination research programme.

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