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Promoting mental well-being and social inclusion through art: evaluation of an arts and mental health project
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 12:43 authored by Jenny Secker, Michael F. E. Loughran, Kirsten Heydinrych, Lyn Kent
Background: Interest in the health potential of arts participation is growing in the UK, but the field lacks a robust evidence base. This article describes the evaluation of 29 introductory arts courses provided by one arts and mental health project. Methods: Formative evaluation methods comprised focus groups attended by 29 participants after four of the introductory courses. Outcomes were assessed through questionnaires measuring mental well-being and social inclusion at the beginning and end of the 29 courses. Results: Formative evaluation participants identified gains in well-being and social inclusion alongside a need to address expectations more clearly and provide more individualised learning Of course completers, 33% returned both outcomes questionnaires. Results indicated significant improvements in well-being and social inclusion. Ratings of participation were very positive and supported attribution of impacts to arts participation. Conclusions: While the results are promising, methodological issues limit the conclusions that can be drawn. Controlled designs would enable impacts to be attributed to arts participation with greater certainty and further research is also needed to assess longer-term impacts. Commissioners need to include evaluation in funding criteria and allocate resources for this in order to help increase response rates by ensuring data collection is adequately resourced.
Publication titleArts and Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice
PublisherTaylor & Francis