Zinc Arts: Promoting young people’s mental health and wellbeing through participation in the arts
reportposted on 2023-08-30, 14:44 authored by Ceri Wilson, Darren Sharpe
Introduction- Zinc Arts is a dynamic, leading arts and education charity that promotes inclusion through “arts without exception”. Zinc Arts runs a wide range of creative courses (including music, sculpture, drama, spray painting, stop-frame animation, film, and visual arts) and is underpinned by the ethos that the arts can be a very positive and powerful force in individual’s lives; awakening them creatively, inspiring future choices, providing a voice for self-expression, serving as a tool for learning, stimulating change, and resulting in a product which serves as an end in itself. ArtZone, a three-year arts programme run by Zinc Arts, involved working with young people aged 11-25 with or at risk of mental ill health through engaging them with a wide range of arts activities. The programme enabled Zinc Arts to deliver a mixture of six-to-ten week outreach projects to an array of organisations who work with young people in both secure and non-secure mental health services. Anglia Ruskin University was commissioned to provide a service evaluation of the ArtZone project from August 2012 to July 2015. Methods- The evaluation comprised both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative strand comprised 122 ArtZone participants (across years one to three) completing measures of mental illness severity and mental wellbeing pre/post course completion, and completing a measure of course satisfaction at the end of their course. The qualitative strand comprised focus groups and semi-structured interviews with 34 ArtZone participants during years one and two of the programme. Findings- ArtZone participants significantly decreased in mental illness severity and significantly increased in mental wellbeing from pre- to post-intervention. Furthermore, participants were highly satisfied with their courses, with 99.1% rating the quality of their course as good or excellent, 96.5% indicating that the course met most or almost all of their needs, 98.3% being mostly satisfied or very satisfied with the amount of help they received and 99.1% being mostly satisfied or very satisfied with the course as a whole. Of particular importance 92.9% said that the course had helped them deal with their problems better. Furthermore, the qualitative findings revealed that the project led to a number of social and emotional benefits to participants, most notably: decreased social isolation and increased social inclusion (through an increased sense of community and connection, the development of peer support networks and friendships, increased communication and understanding); and increased mental wellbeing (through the provision of an emotional outlet, distraction, motivation, relaxation, increased self-confidence, and increased self-esteem). In addition, the qualitative strand revealed that the project sparked imagination and creativity in the participants, built new skills and competencies, and prompted thinking ahead and making future plans. Conclusion- The present evaluation has found that the Zinc Arts ArtZone project has been hugely beneficial to its participants, and has achieved its aim of engaging young people with mental health problems in the arts, enabling them to use the arts to express themselves in a safe and secure setting. The findings also support Zinc Art’s ethos that the arts can be a very positive and powerful force in individual’s lives; awakening them creatively, inspiring future choices, providing a voice for self-expression, serving as a tool for learning, stimulating change, and resulting in a product which serves as an end in itself. The project has provided opportunities for over a hundred young people in both secure unit and community settings, and their engagement with and enjoyment of the project has been clearly evident. The evaluation has shown that the Zinc Arts ArtZone project has achieved important measurable outcomes, with statistically significant improvements in mental wellbeing and significant reductions in mental illness severity. Furthermore, the qualitative findings have revealed that the project has led to a number of social and emotional benefits to participants, having an impact at both an individual and community level. The evaluation results demonstrate the importance of sustaining the ArtZone programme, so that these benefits to young people with or at risk of mental ill health may continue. Further research exploring the longer-term benefits of the courses would be highly valuable.
Number of pages30
PublisherAnglia Ruskin University
Place of publicationChelmsford, UK
- Project Report