Number 21 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' highlights how important Parliament is in the future success of arts in health...

We love the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW), launched in 2014. Peers and MPs from across the political spectrum with a shared interest in arts and health come together to hear about and discuss the latest developments in the sector.

The APPGAHW aims to improve awareness of the benefits that the arts can bring to our health and wellbeing. Between 2015-17, they conducted a major inquiry into current practice in the arts in health sector to which Paintings in Hospitals, and many other leading organisations, contributed.

British artist David Shrigley illustrated the Creative Health inquiry report. See more here.

The inquiry report, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, presents the findings of these two years of evidence gathering and discussions with service users, health and social care professionals, artists and arts organisations, academics, and parliamentarians. It aims to influence ministers and officials, the NHS, Public Health England and local authorities, care staff and care providers.

The report contains an abundance of strong evidence that creative and cultural activities can make a real difference to all of our lives. The key messages include:

  • The arts can help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived.
  • The arts can help meet major challenges facing health and social care: ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health.
  • The arts can help save money in the health service and in social care.

Paintings in Hospitals trustee Professor Marion Lynch at the Houses of Parliament

The report also sets out some recommendations to maximise the potential for art to enhance health and wellbeing. The first was for leaders in the arts, health and social care sectors to establish a national strategic centre for arts, health and wellbeing. This has now taken the form of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance of which Paintings in Hospitals are a Strategic Member.

Creative Health also recommends that there should be a designated person to be responsible for arts and health within NHS England, Public Health England and every clinical commissioning group, NHS trust and local authority.

Read the influential report, complete with brilliant illustrations from artist David Shrigley, here.

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