Arts and Minds: Creatively improving Mental Health

Arts and Minds is the leading arts and mental health charity in Cambridgeshire with a national reputation for contributing to the evidence base and policy developments around non clinical interventions for medical conditions. The charity has been running weekly art workshops for people experiencing depression, stress or anxiety for the past seven years.

Arts on Prescription is a series of friendly, weekly art workshops for people experiencing depression, stress or anxiety. Led by a professional artist and a qualified counsellor, they offer the chance to experience working with a wide range of materials and techniques, including drawing, printmaking and sculpture. Sessions last for two hours and are open to all abilities – no experience necessary – and offer the opportunity to work on something creative, stimulating and absorbing with the aim of increasing well-being.

An evaluation following the 2014/2015 program revealed that of the participants,

  • 71% experienced a decrease in feelings of anxiety
  • 73% reported a decrease in depression
  • 76% said their wellbeing increased
  • 69% felt more socially included.

One of the participants shared: “I feel so much better having had the time and space to do some art. It makes such a difference.”

Another participant said, “being in a room where you’ve got the space and time to be yourself, really helps.”

So why can the arts be so beneficial? “The arts are a way of forming, shaping and holding in front of your eyes something you feel internally,” says Phil George, chair of Arts Council Wales, who last November called on the government to fund the arts to improve health.  “It’s about storytelling,” he says. “It helps people develop a narrative of their lives and relate to their own experience in a new way. I’m convinced from the evidence that investment in the arts for health would pay off. It would be beneficial, not just in terms of wellbeing, but in terms of the pressures and costs that mental illness puts on the system.”

Links to Resource:



Date: 2017

Organization: Arts and Minds