The perspectives of people who use mental health services engaging with arts and cultural activities

Date08 August 2016
Published date08 August 2016
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-02-2016-0011
Pages180-186
AuthorAnita Jensen,Theodore Stickley,Alison Edgley
The perspectives of people who use
mental health services engaging with arts
and cultural activities
Anita Jensen, Theodore Stickley and Alison Edgley
Anita Jensen is based at the
School of Health Sciences,
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, UK.
Theodore Stickley is an
Associate Professor at the
School of Health Sciences,
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, UK.
Alison Edgley is based at the
School of Health Sciences,
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, UK.
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a study of arts engagement for mental health service users
in Denmark.
Design/methodology/approach The study was completed at Hans Knudsen Instituttet, Denmark. It
involved analysis of emerging themes from semi-structured interviews with six participants who had
participated in a structured visit to the National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst) in Denmark.
Findings Multiple benefits for people who use mental health services engaging in arts activities are
reported. Arts activities are described as a central component of everyday life; a way of life and a significant
factor in getting through the day. Barriers are identified in the interdisciplinary working between the museum
educator and participants.
Social implications This study identifies that the participants benefited from taking part in the arts/cultural
activity. Findings also suggest that if museums are offering activities to people who use mental health services
they should equip staff with training designed to support appropriate ways of working with this group. This
interdisciplinary activity offers a relatively untapped potential arena of support.
Originality/value The paper will be of relevance and value to those working with mental health and arts.
The study demonstrates the importance for mental health service users to engage in creative activity and for
museum staff to have appropriate skills for inclusion to be successful.
Keywords Denmark, Mental health, Well-being, Museum, Arts/cultural activities
Paper type Research paper
Background
Using the arts/cultural (music, dance, literature, drama and visual art and so on) within the health
sector is increasingly widely recognised as an innovative approach to health improvement and
health promotion, with well-documented research suggesting positive therapeutic outcomes for
people with both physical and mental health problems (Art for Health, 2010; Belfoire and Bennet,
2007; Chatterjee and Nobel, 2013; RSPH, 2013; Staricoff, 2004; Stickley, 2012; White, 2010).
Participating in arts and culture has been shown to be particularly beneficial for people
with mental health problems (Stickley, 2012; White, 2010; Hacking et al., 2008; Perruzza and
Kinsella, 2011). In a review of the literature on the use of creative arts occupations, Perruzza
and Kinsella (2011) found that practitioners identified such activity as enhancing perceived
control, building a sense of self, expressing ones self, transforming the illness experience,
gaining a sense of purpose and building social support among the associated outcomes from
using the arts. These findings suggest that participating in arts/cultural activities may have
important value related to health and well-being.
PAGE180
j
MENTALHEALTH AND SOCIAL INCLUSION
j
VOL. 20 NO. 3 2016, pp. 180-186, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308 DOI 10.1108/MHSI-02-2016-0011

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