Arts and Mental Health CAMHS Child & Family Psychology iTHRIVE Social Prescribing

5 ways we can support you to link arts, culture and healthcare

With the GM i-THRIVE Arts, Culture and Mental Health Ambassadors programme, we aim to support anyone to embed creativity, culture and the arts into your thinking and practice. THRIVE is the current national transformation of child and family services. 

In the first month we welcomed over 40 colleagues in Greater Manchester from health professionals to arts practitioners to this growing community of people who are passionate about the roles of culture and creativity in the well-being of the children, young people and families.

Read on to find out more about how we support quality innovation in children’s services, and become an Ambassador here.

If you’re not not in GM – no problem! You can still sign up to receive resources (#1, #2, #3, #5) – it’s only direct support that is only available in GM, which means training and the database to accompany the evaluation kit (the kit itself is freely available).

Find out why this programme is needed and what we’ve done so far.

#1 Key resources

We aim to share knowledge, improve understanding of the ways that the arts and culture can support well-being, and support you in making changes where you work.

In one handy email we supply you with a one-page resource list, divided into themes:
– If you’ve only got 5 minutes
– If you want to dig deeper
– Have a go yourself
– Academic research

Here’s my favourite example, when we ‘went all Fraser Crane’ and suggested some podcasts. The Archives can be accessed here.

#2 Exclusive access to training

Our training which Ambassadors may access for free comes in two formats, depending on your sector and background:

(a) Mental Health Training for Artists, with 42nd Street
Ambassadors have this year been able to access training delivered in partnership with 42nd Street, who have for over 40 years provided creative mental health support for young people in Manchester. This half-day workshop prepares artists for working in a mental health context and we hope to continue this regularly.

(b) Arts and Culture in Health, with GM i-THRIVE Training Academy
Each module takes around 20 minutes and our arts and culture e-learning outcomes include:
• Understand how arts & cultural options are viable support for mental health
• Have improved knowledge around the science and background of arts and culture for mental health
• Be aware of key resources for arts, culture and mental health- both theoretical and practical
• Understand how to put your learning into practice in your daily role

#3 The GM Youth Arts, Culture & Mental Health Evaluation Kit

October 2020 saw the launch of the GM Youth Mental Health Arts & Culture Evaluation Kit. Over 40 cultural organisations have requested theirs, which supports them to collect, record and share the impact of their work.

The toolkit captures the impact that arts and cultural activities have on children and young people’s mental health. Using a minimum set of standardised features of evaluation and additional outcome tools, the kit is the ideal way for arts and cultural organisations to demonstrate their impact.

What’s included with the kit?

  • A copy of the evaluation framework for use in your organisation  
  • A tailored database to capture the data and generate top level KPI reports  
  • Enabling your organisation to demonstrate the invaluable impact of arts-based activities in a formal, consistent way that appeals to commissioners
  • The capability to use a mix methods approach and capture metrics used by NHS mental health services, demographic data and creative outcomes data. 

Learn more about the kit and how it was developed: download 1 page briefing or read more about its development, scope and aims in Arts Professional who featured this work: Taking Up the Evaluation Challenge

#4 Evidence and funding: Proof of concepts and Implementation Stories

As part of the GM i-THRIVE programme we deliver regular Implementation Stories to outline best practice and help foster understanding and improvements in services.

Across Greater Manchester, four NHS Trusts are now co-delivering 4 proof of concept projects between NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (or Healthy Young Minds), and community cultural providers, funded through GM i-THRIVE and the Great Place programme at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

We are excited to break this new ground with formal agreements for innovative service provision and with funding from Great Place. Arts partners include:

Arc in Stockport
Glossop Arts Project
Mahdlo Youth Zone
Odd Arts and Bolton Lads and Girls Club

#5 Getting Social

Don’t forget to share your passion! We supply a signature banner for you to share in your email signature. You can also download the social kit for everything you need to spread the word.

You can also follow @GMiTHRIVE on Twitter, or me @communikatt – say hello and spread the word using #GMMAKING #GMITHRIVE.

Join as an Ambassador here.

It doesn’t stop there!

The team are here to support, and we welcome queries, ideas and plans. We also welcome news from our Ambassadors and can chat through some of the barriers and opportunities you have found. We are already providing advice, signposting and examples to Ambassadors and their colleagues who are progressing service innovation.

As we continue the Arts, Culture and Mental Health programme we anticipate further benefits such as:
– News about events and opportunities
– The use of original artworks for your localities or online content
– Increased understanding and access to arts-led options in your locality
– Training for clinical staff in working in arts-based ways

Team email:
Programme manager:

Further Reading

Arts for Health at MMU
A weekly round-up from Clive Parkinson, Director of the longest established organisation of its kind, and co-founder of the Manchester Institute for Arts, Health and Social Change.

The Baring Foundation: Creatively Minded and Young
A selection of arts and mental health projects with, by and for children and young people.

Case studies: How can the arts and creativity support people who are shielding or vulnerable during Covid-19?
Case studies from the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance on Greater Manchester’s two Creative Care Kits, distributed in response to the pandemic.

What’s next for cultural value?
Article from Director of the Centre for Culture Value Ben Walmsley on priorities for the Centre.

Arts, Culture & Mental Health Month at GM i-THRIVE
Feature article in Arts and Health Ireland on the Ambassadors programme

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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