The connection between the arts and health is not new. The Greeks saw a clear link between art and healing. They believed that being in contact with statues and mosaics could heal the mind and body.

In Britain there have been initiatives to introduce the visual arts into medical environments for a long time. William Hogarth painted a large mural in 1735 in St Bartholomew’s hospital in London. During the Victorian times, there were attempts to brighten up some hospitals with works of art such as the decorative tiles at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

But it is really since the 1980s that the links between art and health have been seriously explored. Today a growing number of patients, health and social care professionals, researchers, policy makers, architects and planners recognise that the arts are integral to health.

There is now an overwhelming body of evidence demonstrating that participating in the arts and having access to a range of art opportunities can dramatically improve clinical outcomes and increase wellbeing.

The information in this section is intended to present some of the work in this area and provide links for further information.