Artworks for mental health and wellbeing

Artworks, The Everybody School of Art has been using art to improve people's mental health and wellbeing for over 9 years.

By providing people with lived experience of mental ill health opportunities to engage with high quality arts provision, marked improvements in participants' mental health and wellbeing have been achieved. These improvements extend beyond the participants artistic skills and visual literacy to their personal sense of health and wellbeing into societal, cultural and economic improvements at an individual, family and community level. 

Our successful Artworks for Health and Wellbeing Programme, established in partnership with Creative Minds in 2010 has continued to run year-on-year drawing on support from funding and delivery partners including NHS SWYFPT, Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group, Calderdale Community Foundation, Healthy Minds, Arts Council England and others. Thanks to this over 500 people of all ages with lived experience of mental ill health have taken part in opportunities that connect and engage them with high quality arts provision.

Individual stories

Each person has their own story of success to tell, with benefits ranging from being able to leave the house, organising and taking pleasure in life events, volunteering, returning to work, starting a new career path, returning to and starting formal education at FE, BA and MA level, our work has even been credited, on more than one occasion with ‘saving a person’s life’. 

If you have a story of mental health or emotional wellbeing recovery you would like to share we would love to hear from you.

Having visited Artworks for the first time on Wednesday, I was deeply moved by the calm, friendly positive vibe that suffused the old mill, as well as with the personal stories of wonderful artists who have become part of the community. Such community art projects play a vital role in the health and well-being of us all, and of society as a whole, and we are in desperate danger of losing them to austerity. I wanted to make a donation to protect access to such a wonderful community for those who need it most.
— David Grainger

Academic research

The impact of our work on health and wellbeing is also being evaluated and evidenced in numerous academic research studies conducted at Huddersfield University, Leeds Beckett University, Manchester Metropolitan University and Leeds University by two PhD students, an MA and one BA respectively. 

Thank you to ‘Art for Wellbeing’ at The Artworks for my creative experience. Im now rebuilding my life after a very severe mental breakdown. Being creative has helped me a lot towards healing my mind.

When I lose myself in doing a drawing it frees my mind from depression and psychotic thoughts of self harm. Being around the other people on the 10 lessons course has helped me to gain confidence and integrate me back into the community.

I hope more people can go to ‘Art for Wellbeing’ and gain some confidence with other people and wellness in their minds.
— Anon
Artworks has had a major positive impact on my wellbeing for the following reasons:

* I have something to do that I care very much about that I can immerse myself in freeing up any negative thoughts 

* It has allowed me to connect with and on occasion deal with my emotions

* Allowed me to reach into unconscious parts of my mind and express these thoughts through my art

* Increased my confidence not just with my artwork but also interaction with others

* The support from the directors and others at Artworks is priceless


In conclusion without Artworks “I would be a lot more ‘screwed up’ and possibly no longer living and would be missing the opportunity available to me that gives me the most happiness in my life”
— Anon

Evidence base: 

All participants, as a result in taking part of our Art for Wellbeing programmes, report that they feel an increased sense of well-being, confidence, were less stressed, depressed and were better able to cope and manage their lives. Data collected by Creative Minds has shown our work to be a proven and cost effective route to mental health recovery. This is backed up by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts and Health report which tells us that

“there is ample evidence that the arts help to overcome mental health problems. Arts-on-prescription programmes can give rise to significant reductions in anxiety, depression and stress”. 

To demonstrate this cost saving, a service user recently reported that if he had not attended our 12 week drawing programme at a cost of £180 he would have returned to inpatient mental health care at a cost of £350 per day. 

During 2016-2017 our drawing based Art and Wellbeing programme which was jointly funded by Arts Council England and Creative Minds was evaluated by the Workers Educational Association who found that; 

“The project helped participants to improve many of their skills with the most notable improvements in learning (81%), creative (86%), critical thinking (57%) and analytical (52%) skills. 

There were several additional wider benefits of the project to the participants’ lives which impacted their health and wellbeing such as; helping to keep their mind active (81% reported this) increasing their self-confidence (76%) and encouraging them to take up new hobbies and interests (71%). “

I have been attending The Artworks for several years, during a difficult and confusing time for myself. I have found it to be welcoming and supportive in all the classes. I have attended drawing, ceramics, printmaking and photography.

It provides me with essential structure in an otherwise empty week, gives me social connections in a place of isolation and gives my life some meaning and enjoyment when there is little to be found otherwise. I would have found this period of my life much more difficult were it not for The Artworks. It is a very safe space for someone with vulnerabilities such as myself.

I cannot elaborate, but they are extensive and affect me in many ways, which gives it a unique place in my life.

I appreciate the skills i have learned and the opportunity to develop and explore my creative side that The Artworks allows. The flexibility of the courses and tuition has allowed me to enjoy being creative, which is something I have not felt since being very young and which is very valuable to.
— Anon