Investing in art and culture for mental health

There is now much evidence that participating in cultural activities, such as drawing, singing or participating in a play, is beneficial for mental health. Of course, impacts are often difficult to measure, and the focus of research is sometimes on small projects and individual experiments. However, we now have enough evidence that cultural engagement in general is beneficial for mental health.

This is also evident, for example, from the personal experiences of people who sing in a participation choir, a choir for people with and without dementia. A participant in the Cultuurhuis het Wilde Westen participation choir in Utrecht-West expresses her personal experience as follows.

Well, if I’m speaking for myself, this is really an expression of the feelings stuck inside me. I often can’t identify or understand feelings or don’t really know what’s going on in my head. I can’t express it in words, but I can express it in singing.

Enjoyable activities have a positive effect

My doctoral research in 2009 shows that enjoyable activities that match someone’s personal preferences can reduce symptoms of depression. Then I noticed that fun activities are often creative activities. Since then, I have been driven to highlight the importance of art and culture for mental health. As a researcher at the Trimbos Institute, as a community nurse, as an editor and “just” as a human being.

There is no funding despite the positive impact

In a recent publication, the Office of Social Cultural Planning cites cultural engagement as one of the buttons that policymakers can turn to to promote the mental health of older people. We also see positive impacts on youth and other target groups. However, there is no structural financing. Artists, researchers, and health care providers spend a lot of time fundraising to continue providing cultural activities. again and again.

See also  Lukashenko offers "nuclear weapons to everyone" joins the Russian-Belarusian alliance | outside

Fundraising comes at the expense of activities

A number of hospitals and elderly care organizations consider art and culture so important that they fund them themselves. They do this by employing people who organize activities for patients and clients. But these people also spend a lot of time getting benefits. Time that could be better spent providing arts and culture activities.
“What I find so powerful about art is that it can touch you, comfort you, amaze you, or inspire you. Especially in aged care, where care is shifting from desirable to necessary, using artistic interventions can make a difference. Contribute a little happiness “Unfortunately, subsidies are still necessary to achieve this and budgets are often available for innovative projects or for further pilot development. Structural funding is usually not available at this time, especially for a successful and proven project.” Mikey Moll, Art and Culture Coordinator at Vitalis

The power of art

On 16 February 2024, Jet Bussemaker, Chair of the Public Health and Community Council, presented the white paper “Health Arts in the Netherlands”. In this, along with more than 200 researchers, administrators, artists, and health care workers, I advocate for the integration of art and creativity into health care. Through the “Cultural Participation and Mental Health” knowledge file, the Trimbus Institute and LKCA jointly provide an overview of current knowledge on promoting mental health through active cultural engagement. In the coming years we will join the “Arts in Health” movement to help implement the national agenda. I am convinced that cultural engagement can help all people become mentally fit, preventively and therapeutically. This is the power of art.

See also  Is seaweed a panacea for your health?

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *