Number 51 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' highlights how art can help lower levels of depression and anxiety for people with diagnosed mental health problems...

We’re all aware that art and creativity can be great for our general wellbeing. But what difference can they make for those of us who have a diagnosed mental health condition?

Surprisingly, there have been relatively few studies of the effects of creating and viewing visual arts on the wellbeing of people with specific mental health problems.

At Paintings in Hospitals, we have worked with mental health centres and hospitals across the country over many years. We've co-curated art displays with service users and staff, and engaged service users in creative activities. We have seen firsthand the difference art can make to mental health.

A Paintings in Hospitals artwork discussion and selection activity at Lambeth & Southwark Mind

This year, the What Works Centre for Wellbeing published their report looking at visual art impacts on the wellbeing of adults with mental health issues.

The report looked at existing studies of visual arts activities, including painting and drawing, art appreciation, artmaking culminating in an exhibition, and more general creative and craft activities.

The evidence showed that engaging in the visual arts for adults with mental health conditions can: reduce levels of depression and anxiety; increase self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem; and encourage and stimulate re-engagement with the wider social world.

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Banner image: Edward DutkiewiczUntitled. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection.