Arts and Mental Health Child & Family Psychology Evaluation iTHRIVE news

New Youth Arts & Culture Kit helping to share the value of creative health options

mosaic of partners who co-produced the GM youth mental health arts and culture evaluation kit including gm i-THRIVE Greater Manchester Combined Authority arts council england lime arts 42nd street and the university of manchester

GM i-THRIVE have this month launched the Youth Mental Health Arts & Culture Evaluation Kit, a useful approach to help explain the effects of taking part in the arts. We are grateful to over 30 organisations across GM who have already requested theirs.

What is it?

An adaptable method to help capture some of the impact that arts and cultural activities have on children and young people’s mental health.

Without a consensus approach across arts and cultural providers, the health sector is limited in their ability to commission creative programmes. We have tried to address this issue through a unique 12-month partnership between mental health services, arts organisations, voluntary sector organisations and academics. Together we designed the kit to help the arts sector use common outcomes that are easily applied and appropriate to their setting.

What’s included in the Kit?

  • A copy of the evaluation kit for use in your organisationavailable to all
  • A tailored database to capture and generate top level KPI reports enabling you to better understand and demonstrate your impact in a formal, consistent way that appeals to commissionersonly available in GM
  • The capability to use a mixed-methods approach and metrics used by NHS services, demographic data and creative outcomes

Request your kit

Who made the evaluation kit?

The kit has been co-developed through workshops in a collaboration between:
Greater Manchester i-THRIVE and Greater Manchester Combined Authority as part of the Great Place programme, 42nd Street, Arts Council England, Mahdlo Youth Zone, University of Manchester, Z-arts, Lime Arts, Contact Theatre and other key stakeholders.

You can read more about our partners and its development here.

Who is it for?

Greater Manchester (GM) organisations including:
 Providers of arts and cultural programmes for children and young people, to support you to understand and capture data and outcomes, and support your work with young people
 NHS providers and commissioners – to promote the use of the kit and make use of outcomes and evaluation data.

Why have we created the kit?

We know that arts and cultural activities can support good mental health and improve poor mental health, however there is no formal, organised consistent way of capturing this impact across GM. This evaluation kit exists to capture these impacts and create a city-region wide data set.

In a recent Arts Professional article, Ben Walmsley and Anne Torreggiani discuss the “urgent” need to support articulation of the value of culture, while cautioning against reductivist methods:

“One of the most powerful things we can do is to help the sector mine the rich seam of evidence that already exists, hidden from sight within academic publications, in forgotten archives and on ageing hard-drives. We have an important role to play in signposting and synthesising the best evidence out there. We can stop hard-pressed cultural practitioners straining to prove what has already been proven – or otherwise – and instead help them build on what is already known. We can nurture a culture of evidence-sharing which currently struggles to thrive in an anti-failure environment.

Most powerful of all, we can help to address the “so what?”. In order to get a real sense of social and public value we need to work as a collective, combining our stories, evidence, findings and experience to make what we know to be a compelling case.”

Ben Walmsley and Anne Torreggiani explain how the new Centre for Cultural Value will support funders, policymakers and the cultural sector to make more effective use of research and evaluation

Full article:

What is our goal?

The kit ensures that there is agreed minimum and consistent data and evidence collated when delivering arts and culture programmes which are intended to impact on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing in Greater Manchester. To achieve consistency, the kit uses some of the same outcome measures collated by NHS mental health services, and measures of interest to commissioners such as waiting times and costs. We hope that supporting the arts sector to be able to demonstrate these specifics – as well as creative outcomes and stories – will facilitate the commissioning of evidence-based arts and cultural activities, ultimately providing the children and young people of Greater Manchester with a more holistic offer for their mental well-being.

How to get involved

Any Greater Manchester arts or culture organisations working with
children and young people can contact GM iTHRIVE to request a tailored version of the kit via the request page.

Any questions, contact:
or manager of the programme, Kat:

Further articles and background to the kit:

Arts Professional Taking Up the Evaluation Challenge

Churchill Trust: Embedding the arts in healthcare

Centre for Cultural Value, Leeds: 5 Minutes with our speakers

To access more information on the Arts, Culture and Mental Health Programme hosted on the THRIVE national website visit

Become an Arts, Culture & Health Ambassador

You can join us as part of the wider systems transformation as an Arts, Culture & Mental Health Ambassador. As an ambassador you will:

  • Receive the tools and research findings to help your team engage with this developing evidence base.
  • Take part in bespoke training to help you better understand why this evidence base is important, and how it can influence your work
  • Learn about the proof of concepts currently underway in Greater Manchester and become better equipped to understand and support this new ground

If you are not a provider based in GM, you are welcome to make use of the Kit with appropriate referencing, but due to capacity we are not able to support the database beyond Greater Manchester.

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.

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