London Arts in Health Forum and The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance have begun their ‘Creativity and Wellbeing Week’.
Now in its eighth year, Creativity and Wellbeing week (10-14 June 2019), involves over 500 creative projects taking place across the UK to support members of the public to learn how the arts and creativity can improve their health and wellbeing.
Research demonstrates that even a brief amount of time spent on a creative pastime such as painting, pottery or playing the piano, has a positive effect on our wellbeing and emotions. The arts can help to keep well, improve health outcomes and live longer, higher quality lives.
The health impact
After engaging with the arts, 79% of people in deprived communities ate more healthily, 77% engaged in more physical activity and 82% enjoyed greater wellbeing.
Mental health problems in the under-65s account for nearly half of NHS diagnoses: arts engagement at work and in leisure time can address work-related anxiety, depression and stress.
Arts support recovery
The arts can support recovery from illness and long-term conditions. Listening to music after a stroke speeds recovery and lifts mood, dancing and group singing enhance cognition, communication and physical functioning in people with Parkinson’s and singing alleviates chronic respiratory conditions and cystic fibrosis. Furthermore, engagement in arts plays a role in diminishing the physical and emotional effects of heart disease and cancer.
Director of LAHF, Jenni Regan, told ArtsCulture: “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.”
Art as medicine
Social prescribing of art-based activities reduces the over subscription of drugs and can lead to the same or better outcomes without as much medicine, leading to cost savings for the NHS. 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.
Using the arts to prevent and treat ill health is becoming a viable treatment option for healthcare professionals. Social Prescribing is currently being championed by both the Department of Health and NHS England in its Long-Term Plan.
Victoria Hume, director, Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance said: “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.”
The role of arts in older adulthood
Arts can play a key role in fostering healthy ageing and staving off frailty. Arts engagement can diminish anxiety, depression and stress, social isolation and increase self- esteem, confidence and purpose.
The arts can help meet the major health challenge of dementias, which affect approximately 850,000 older people (and predicted to reach 2 million by 2051) and currently cost the UK £26.3 billion annually, for example: by boosting brain function and memory recall and by enhancing quality of life for those with dementia and their carers. Furthermore, music therapy has been shown to reduce agitation and need for medication in 67% of people with dementia.
There are over 500 creative projects taking place throughout Creativity and Wellbeing Week designed to engage all ages to participate in a creative activity.
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