Here’s some health advice on the mental health front: try doing a little art. According to researchers at the Anglia Ruskin University in the UK, creativity can be used to heal symptoms like anxiety and depression. The study, recently published in Perspectives in Public Health, followed the results from a program titled “Open Arts.”
The program has been running in South Essex since 2008, and according to the UK researchers, it has become so in-demand that a waiting list has developed. Given the waiting list and the need to improve the existing scientific evidence of arts groups in mental health, the researchers decided to conduct a study to explore participants’ experiences of their course.
Participants for the study were taken from the “Open Arts” wait-list. People on the Open Arts waiting list who had been allocated a place on the courses formed an intervention group; those remaining on the waiting list were asked to complete the same measures over the same time period (forming a control group). Participants in the intervention group were asked to rate the service, and were offered the opportunity to join a focus group.
Thirty-two people in the control group and 26 people in the intervention group were included in the researchers’ analysis. They found that there were no significant differences between the two groups on mental health measures at baseline. Of the intervention group, 96% reported enjoying the course, and most of those providing feedback reported gains in confidence (81%) and motivation (88%). Nineteen participants in the control group completed an Open Arts course later in the year, and similar improvements between baseline and follow-up scores were reported. The research team concluded that participation in an art group is likely to have benefits when it comes to mental health, including improved well-being.
Have you always wanted to pick up a paintbrush or try your hand at writing? Sign up for a course, and at the same time, improve your mental outlook on life.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
A Strange, Yet Effective Way to Beat Depression
Margrove KL et al, “Waiting list-controlled evaluation of a participatory arts course for people experiencing mental health problems,” Perspect Public Health October 3, 2012.