Mental health conditions in young people account for nearly half of NHS diagnoses; however, engaging in the arts can help alleviate the symptoms of certain mental illness by cultivating a relaxing atmosphere. Indulging in listening to music, dancing or singing at work are all methods of engaging in the arts and have been strongly recommended by London Arts in Health Forum as a means of supporting wellbeing.
Not only can the arts help relax and calm the mind, they can also have therapeutic purposes for patients with chronic, physical ailments. For example, singing can ease symptoms of certain chronic respiratory conditions; a medical review published by Cochrane demonstrates singing could benefit individuals with Cystic Fibrosis, via clearing the airways and therefore aiding with lung functioning.
Director of London Arts in Health Forum (LAHF), Jenni Regan, commented “What we’re finding is that although the arts can be used to respond to specific healthcare needs, we’re also seeing tangible health benefits of visiting museums and libraries, singing with a choir, and reading aloud. Before reaching crisis point, people can engage with their local services to prevent ill-health and improve their quality of life. The Health Secretary has recently announced investment towards social prescribing schemes.”
The prescribing of art-based activities as an alternative to over the counter fixes or prescription drugs allows GP services to save hours and costs. A recent ‘art on prescription’ project has shown a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and 27% reduction in hospital admission, saving the NHS £216 per patient. Health care professionals are now seeing art as viable treatment option for some health concerns and these opportunities employing the arts would be implemented, through social prescribing.
Social prescribing provides GPs and health care professionals to connect patients to non-clinical support systems, such as community groups. In the NHS Long Term Plan published in January 2019, the NHS aims to enforce over 1000 trained social prescribing link workers by the end of 2020 or 2021 and promises to increase the number in 2023 to 2024. The enforcement of social prescribing link workers will strive to ensure that over 900,000 people will be able to receive referrals to social prescribing schemes.
Speaking about the opportunities social prescribing could create, Victoria Hume, Director of Culture at Health & Wellbeing Alliance commented: “This is a massive opportunity to celebrate the range and depth of ground breaking work happening across the whole country – work that is building a new idea of what a really healthy society looks like: one that has creativity, community and the imagination at its heart.”
Creativity and Wellbeing Week
There are over 500 creative projects taking place throughout Creativity and Wellbeing Week designed to engage all ages to participate in a creative activity. These include:
- London Bubble Theatre in Southwark. Participants will be involved in producing a play that incorporates plots and characters, which both explore and benefit wellbeing.
- Make and Create’ in Walthamstow. The ‘Make and Create’ session had been forth by a GP and adopts craft sessions to promote improved mental health. Moreover, the physical reliance on your hands to create the wall hangings and hexagon jewellery as part of the session, means the workshops can be used as physical therapy.
- Melodies for Mums. Launched by Breathe Arts Research, otherwise known as Breathe, Melodies for Mums is a project, where women with post-natal depression can take part in free, regular singing sessions with their babies. The initiative put forth by Breathe draws from research by the Royal College of Music and Imperial College. Their findings highlighted a ten-week programme of singing and producing music, for mothers with post-natal depression, led to 41% reduction in symptoms of PND and a recovery in 73% of mothers who took part.
For more information and full details of activities taking place during the week, please visit: http://www.creativityandwellbeing.org.uk