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Creativity and Wellbeing Week and beyond

Because 'awareness weeks' are meant to change the way we see an issue - not simply raise awareness and move on, this post highlights Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2022 and a number of related events and resources on the theme. Welcome!

Because ‘awareness weeks’ are meant to change the way we see an issue – not simply raise awareness and move on, this post highlights Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2022 and a number of related events and resources on the theme. Welcome!

Are you participating in Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2022? Since launching in 2012, Creativity and Wellbeing Week has grown from a small celebration of arts and health in London, to a national open festival with over 50,000 attendees in 2019 and seven million people engaged in conversation on social media. It is hosted by London Arts and Health and supported by the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, and features a mix of in-person and online events.

Head to the website to access a creative toolkit, or add your events or details to the site. The festival runs from Monday 16th May 9.00am to Sunday 22nd May, 10.00pm. The launch takes place Friday 20 May 2022. Read about events organised by members here.

One highlight includes a round table of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health & Wellbeing focused on young people and mental health, 17th May, (register here), where I’ll be sharing our work to embed more creative options at GM i-THRIVE and reporting back here.

What else can I read, do or get involved in?

Also in May, stretching from the 4th until the 24th, is the 16-year-old Scottish Mental Health Film Festival. Led by the Mental Health Foundation, the SMHAF covers a diverse range of cultural events from music, film, theatre, visual art, dance and literature. The festival aims to support the arts, explore how arts and cultural engagement can help prevent mental ill health, support recovery, and address stigma.

Launched in 2007, SMHAF has grown into one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, with 300+ events and 25,000 attendees across Scotland each year. It combines high-quality artistic events with community-led, grassroots programming, and has been replicated internationally. In 2017 I had the pleasure of interviewing its founder, Johannes Parkkonen (now Director of the Finnish Association of Mental Health), to understand more about the values and vision for the festival.  

Also run by the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is Creative Network – Wellbeing – a monthly conversation, providing the chance to exchange experiences, encourage peer support for practitioner and facilitator wellbeing and share good practice.

There’s also the UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week in May.

Greater Manchester

Lime Art

Celebrating creativity and wellbeing with its own festival is Lime Arts, one of the world’s oldest arts for health organisations. Situated in a new, unique arts for wellbeing centre on Oxford Road, Lime’s Director Dawn Prescott oversees projects that compliment delivery of clinical care, and transform healthcare environments for thousands of staff and patients every year.

“Children can now better cope with fear and anxiety associated with the hospital environment and radiological procedures. Thank you LIME Arts for making our children happier and my job much more enjoyable”
Rui M. F. Santos (MD) Consultant Paediatric Radiologist, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester, UK

Hospital Printmaking Studio

Since 2020, the MFT Employee Health & Wellbeing Service and Lime Art have delivered from their print-making studio a ground-breaking arts and wellbeing programme (for MFT staff only) – CREATE.CONNECT.UNWIND+. During stressful times, all MFT staff could participate in workshops and demonstrations delivered by leading artists and printmakers. Award-winning artists and musicians supported staff to “explore how creativity can quickly take us away from work pressure and ‘refresh’ the brain to improve concentration and help us connect, communicate and care better for ourselves and each other.”

Lime have been collecting outcomes and shown some very impressive impacts of the workshops on staff wellbeing. You can read statements from staff on the Lime Portal. I too confirm the sessions are excellent! During lockdowns, I found stress-relief and new skill acquisition in online workshops, which ranged from singing (my favourite!) and creative writing to collage to print-making, with Lime sending out art materials through the post.

SICK! Festival

SICK! Festival 2022 is a community arts and health festival where local and international artists, poets, musicians engage in conversations about what makes us feel good – and what doesn’t.

SICK! Festival has been running since 2013 and offers a wide-ranging international arts programme, including researchers, clinical practitioners, public health professionals, charities and people with lived experience of the issues and conditions explored.

Resources

The Anna Freud Centre has recently shared music for self-care resources aimed at schools.

Place2Be’s The Art Room is a project that uses art to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Downloadable resources in Activities from the Art Room offers a selection of creative projects – each one explores a wellbeing theme through creative activities, stories, and conversation. 

Hidden LIVE is an immersive performance that challenges audiences to walk in the shoes of a young person struggling with their mental health. It is FREE and open to anyone. Young people, parents, teachers, mental health professionals and those working in the 3rd sector are invited to attend and share this event.

King’s College London has developed infographics for each of the health faculties to illustrate some of the work that has already taken place with artists and arts organisations in each field. Find the psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience one here.

From an art teacher:

Greater Manchester’s Creative Care Kits are still available for download, for both young people (aged 13 – 18) and older adults.

And to learn about development around the world, check out this article in The Art Newspaper, on museum programmes promoting art as a powerful source of wellbeing: With art therapy on the rise, France’s museums are beginning to take mental health seriously.

Funds

New funding for global majority-led arts organisations to develop creative work with people with mental health problems available from the Baring Foundation.

The Wellcome Trust

Research

Also from the Baring Foundation, this new report Arts and Creativity for people with severe mental illness, a rapid realist review inquires into the roles of
participatory arts and creativity for people with diagnoses of ‘severe mental illness’ (SMI) – this might include people living with diagnoses of schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, schizoaffective disorders and psychosis.

Finding more arts and cultural engagement is associated with fewer reportedly anti-social or criminalised behaviors and better self-control scores, concurrently and one to two years later, Arts and Cultural Engagement, Reportedly Antisocial or Criminalized Behaviors, and Potential Mediators in Two Longitudinal Cohorts of Adolescents

ATTUNE: A national consortium of academic, public sector, VCS and charity partners developing interdisciplinary research into arts and mental health through participatory arts-based research.

PROJECTA: An Art-Based Tool in Trauma Treatment. On the therapeutic use of artistic images to approach trauma & other difficult conditions, by means of association between art & emotions, feelings or states of mind – Includes lit review.

Interesting new paper: Community and cultural engagement for people with lived experience of mental health conditions: what are the barriers and enablers?

Lastly…

If you, or your family, or team, need any further push towards arts-based activities, this article, Windows of developmental sensitivity to social
media
, using data from 84,000 young people on screen time, includes a useful guide for parents on screen time.

And don’t forget you and your team can sign up as Arts, Culture and Mental Health Ambassadors to receive free, short monthly resources from our arts & culture 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.

1 comment on “Creativity and Wellbeing Week and beyond

  1. NEW HAWKS

    Nice one Kat.

    I dig Lime Art Flo and her KitKat verse!

    Keep up the good work.

    XDH.

    >

    Like

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