Craft helps us feel better: FACT… apparently. We’ve heard how Craftivism calms, soothe and creates. And now there’s even more evidence of the link between craft and well-being. With the prospect of the trauma of the lockdown and coronavirus continuing after restrictions have been lifted, it could now be time to recognise and embrace the power of craft.
Craft courses have been prescribed to patients since the dawn of occupational therapy in the late 19th century, with basketry used to relieve anxiety and physical ailments in soldiers during the first world war.
Arts and health
Over the past two decades, there has been a major increase in scientific research into the effects of the arts on health and well-being, alongside developments in practice and policy activities in different countries.
In November the WHO Health Evidence Network Report: ‘What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? Lead by Dr Fancourt it provided compelling evidence on the health benefits of making, and being actively creative overall, among children and adults.
The report focused primarily on Europe, but also referenced positive participation outcomes from countries such as China. For example, children who survived the 2008 China earthquakes and were given 30 days of calligraphy training had greater decreases in hyperarousal symptoms and stress hormones.
The report sits along the ground-breaking results of the Great British Creativity Test among 50,000 Brits, released last May. The largest study of its kind explored how being creative can help us manage our mood and boost wellbeing.
Lead by Dr Daisy Fancourt, UCL Senior Research Fellow and run in conjunction with the BBC’s annual Get Creative campaign – of which the Crafts Council is a supporter – Making emerged as the most popular category of creative practice, with nearly 24% of respondents naming it as one of their favourite past-times. (This is backed up by a Taking Part survey which shows amateur craft participation in England has grown to nearly 24% in 2017/18).
MARCH for mental health
The Crafts Council is part of the MARCH mental health network set up last year, and led by Dr Daisy Fancourt, which is further examining and galvanising evidence on how the creative arts are good for us.
The Crafts Council’s Craft Club is a national Crafts Council campaign that champions craft groups in schools, galleries, libraries and anywhere else where people get together to share craft skills. Through its own research, it has found the immediacy of working with materials, producing something of which we can be proud and belongs to us for keeping or gifting to others gives confidence and translates into a rare and valuable feeling of being in control of our immediate environment and, ultimately, well-being.