My name is Kat Taylor and I’m a clinical psychologist with a research background. I work in CAMHS in Lancaster and Morecambe, and across Greater Manchester managing the GM i-THRIVE Arts, Culture & Mental Health Programme. This blog began from Arts for Health in Manchester as a way means to record my 2017 WCMT Travelling Fellowship in Finland and the US. I visited over 40 organisations exploring the roles of culture and the arts in mental health from a psychological perspective. On returning to the UK, this led to a new Arts, Culture & Mental Health Programme in Greater Manchester.
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.
Once qualified, I took an unexpected role at Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan and enjoyed three years with Dementia and Imagination, a large study and public engagement programme looking at the impact of artist-led sessions on people living with dementia and those around them. It was this journey and merging of worlds – clinical and academic, health and arts, the personal and professional – which really cemented my interest and understanding of the arts for health. My Churchill Fellowship in 2017 helped shape my motivation and ability to develop the current Arts, Culture & Mental Health Programme in GM i-THRIVE.
Prior to clinical training I worked in several university psychology research departments including the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University, notable for its service user involvement. My research has explored links between arts, health and well-being and alongside academic publications, I have focussed on public engagement and collaborated with artists at, for example, Carry On Cartoon Camping at Einstein’s Garden, Green Man Festival, Wales and co-curated exhibitions on mental health (Urban Psychosis) and dementia (Dementia and Imagination). I’ve been invited to share my work in a variety of forums from panel discussions to key notes, exhibitions to EU policy development and Special Interest Groups.