Number 6 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' highlights how art can build our resilience to work stress…

We know that art can help to create better doctors, improving their emotional intelligence and observational skills, which we can assume leads to more accurate diagnosis and better treatment. But can art help doctors feel better within themselves, not only for the patients?

It’s no surprise that burnout is a huge problem among staff within the NHS. The long hours, the reality of human struggle, coupled with increasing pressure from funding cuts, government policies and an ageing population. One GP summarises the situation:

“We don’t have enough resources and we’re constantly being told by government we’re doing a bad job. I dread going into work and I want to walk away from it all…”

The most recent quarterly tracker from the British Medical Association demonstrates that 45% of doctors described their morale as being low or very low.

So, what can be done to tackle burnout in the workplace?

Workplaces can be enriched by art, and the installation of artwork makes them more enjoyable spaces. Art is important to create a work environment that encourages creativity, relieves stress and improves the wellbeing of employees.

Staff member at Vassall Medical Centre taking part in a Paintings in Hospitals workshop, with artworks by Michael Craig-Martin.

Michelle Dean, an art psychotherapist, says that art can help enhance the quality of a workplace and help build stronger teams. It is resilience that comes from this that plays a huge part in preventing burnout of employees in all sectors.

Much of the research on the impact of art in preventing burnout is on art therapy and participatory art. But art in the workplace doesn’t necessarily have to be performed to be beneficial to staff. Dean says:

“Because creativity is an innate drive, in most workplaces, one can observe creative expressiveness among workers… Public art and having quality art in the workplace are about more than just having pretty pictures on the wall; it can be a form of self-help.”

It’s vital that the care services explore how art can help care staff to cope with work-related stresses and build their resilience to avoid the ongoing cycle of burnout.

If you’re a care site that would like to find out more about what Paintings in Hospitals can offer your staff, contact us here.