Arts and Mental Health Child & Family Psychology devolution news

Doing Things Differently: the first six months of Greater Manchester’s Arts, Culture & Mental Health Programme

In April 2019, the GM i-THRIVE team leading the transformation of children’s services in Greater Manchester established the Arts, Culture Mental Health  Programme. The purpose of this blog is to share our first newsletter, below, circulated today to GM i-THRIVE’s Community of Practice.

The success of this programme is testament to the long history of arts in health – worldwide, in the EU region, and particularly in Manchester. Lime Arts has resided at Manchester Children’s Hospital since 1973, and Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University is the longest established organisation of its sort, with specialism in research, advocacy and development across the UK and internationally. Before I joined MG i-THRIVE with a view to facilitating cross-sector partnerships between the health and cultural sectors, I prepared for the need to temper my enthusiasm, and expected to encounter barriers and feel frustrated with slow progress. However, 6 months in, I am happy to report that this has not been my experience!

This week, the WHO launched their report on arts and health: What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review (2019)

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Greater Manchester i-THRIVE Newsletter
Nov 2019

 The Arts & Mental Health Edition                                                                    

Welcome to this special edition of the GM i-THRIVE newsletter, focusing on our Arts & Mental Health Innovation programme.

It’s been six months since Dr Kat Taylor was welcomed to the GM i-THRIVE team to manage the Arts and Mental Health Innovation Programme and some really exciting progress has been made. So it seems like a good time to share a round-up of activities under the programme.

 Arts & Mental Health Innovation – a quick explainer

We’re excited to break new ground with our Arts and Culture programme. Working with arts partners in Greater Manchester, we’re helping kick-start some of the changes needed for more flexible, relevant and enjoyable mental health support for young people.

Since April 2019, the team has been working closely with organisations and individuals from the cultural sector to develop a clear vision for innovative and evidence-based partnerships. We have taken significant steps towards understanding current provision, sharing good practice, implementing projects and developing an evaluation framework. Our aim is to continue this work, and begin working with children and young people in the development of arts and mental health programmes.

Dr Kat Taylor is the Programme Lead, you are welcome to contact her for any further info:

What is happening in the programme?

Evaluation Framework

GM i-THRIVE in partnership with 42nd Street, Arts Council England and other key stakeholders have established a working party to develop a framework to evaluate our arts and culture programme. The evaluation framework will provide an agreed, standardised means of collecting and reporting on data.

While there have been hundreds of studies on the role of culture and the arts in supporting wellbeing, no standard means of collecting and reporting data and outcomes are in place. We hope to set this standard with the framework, which in turn allows findings from evidence-based practice to have a meaningful impact that commissioners can work with.

The evaluation framework is due to launch in May 2020 at our Arts & Culture Communities of Practice event.

New projects – proof of concept

GM i-THRIVE in partnership with Great Places will fund three pilot projects in CAMH (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) services. These activities, alongside our new evaluation framework, will inform a series of options papers which we hope will help to demonstrate the impact of arts-led options for children and young people. We’ll keep you posted on this project.


We’re collecting information on arts-based provisions in Greater Manchester via two surveys.

If you’re an Arts and Culture organisation working on a mental health project in Greater Manchester, we’d love to hear all about your service:

If you’re a CAMHS team/practitioner, we’d love to hear your thoughts on collaborative work with arts and culture organisations:

Please share surveys with any colleagues conducting this type of work.

The survey responses will help us capture the collaborative working of mental health providers and arts and culture organisations, to identify areas of good practice and the areas for development.

Thanks to all who have responded already!

 Upcoming Events

Mental Health Foundation Reporting

Kat Taylor’s 2018 ‘Art Thou Well: Towards creative devolution of mental health in Greater Manchester’ looks at broadening the use of arts for health and wellbeing in the context of GM devolution. The Mental Health Foundation will feature Kat’s work in a series of briefings and webinars in February 2020.

Film from Belle Vue Productions: February 2020 

Manchester based film production company Belle Vue Productions will deliver a film on the progress of arts and mental health in GM.

Arts, Health and Wellbeing Community of Practice: May 2020

We’ll keep you updated on further details of this event.

Worldwide arts and health updates

Wellcome award on arts and physical/mental health

The award has just been announced to support the world-largest study into the impact of arts on physical and mental health. You can find out more here.

What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review (2019)

The WHO Europe report launched on Monday 11th November: 3500 studies on the role of arts and culture in prevention, management and treatment. You can view the report here.

There is also a supporting fact sheet on the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being.

We’ll be back in touch next month with our regular GM i-THRIVE newsletter, and will continue to keep you up to date on our Arts and Mental Health Programme.

Should you have any queries on the content of the newsletter, or would like to submit content for a future newsletter, please contact:

You can expect to receive a newsletter from us once every 8 weeks, if you would like to add a colleague to the mailing list please follow:

I'm a British clinical psychologist with a research background. I manage the Greater Manchester i-THRIVE Arts, Culture and Mental Health Programme, part of the national transformation of children's services. I also have an NHS clinical role in Lancaster and Morecambe working with children, young people and families (CAMHS). I began this blog in 2017 to record a WCMT Travelling Fellowship, from a research role at Arts for Health, Manchester Metropolitan University. I began clinical psychology training (DCLinPsy, Lancaster) in 2010, and studied the role of creativity in bipolar disorder, because of the known links, and partly due to my own experiences of creatively managing extremes of mood in adolescence and throughout my 20s. I have worked in several university psychology research departments including Manchester University in suicide prevention, the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University (notable for service user expertise), and on the Dementia & Imagination research programme.

3 comments on “Doing Things Differently: the first six months of Greater Manchester’s Arts, Culture & Mental Health Programme

  1. I am an art psychotherapist and interested in developing work with Africa Caribbean boys with SEND. From my personal and professional experience and networks I am concerned about the levels of distress and trauma in this particularly vulnerable group. This group of young people are experiencing unprecedented levels of permanent school exclusions. I am a parent of autistic Black children and know that Black parents with autistic children are not being heard or supported leading to a range of difficulties e.g. police harassment, alienation. Is this an area of wellbeing that the programme would be interested in exploring.


    • Hello Olatunde, I’m sorry please accept my apologies email is a better way to reach me and I missed your message. The programme is part of the wider THRIVE agenda/ programme which is national, and, we are interested in individuals and groups who are underrepresented, or dont wish to engage with typical services, or who are otherwise disadvantaged. I know for my part, I am really keen that we offer the arts Innovation programme more broadly than to those who seek NHS mental health services, and moreover that we as such services learn from other communities and broaden the clinical offer. Where are you based?


  2. Pingback: Love Spreads: Three Minute Heroes Comes to Greater Manchester – Art Thou Well

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