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23 March 2022

Arts and creativity for people with a severe mental illness

Hannah Zeilig, Corinna Hackmann, Julian West, Melanie Handley and Jasmin Plant
What is the role of arts and creativity for people with a severe mental illness? This new review assesses what we know, what we don't know and poses questions for future research.


Launch event: Tuesday 3 May 2pm to 3pm

Much less is understood about the role of arts and creativity for people with a severe mental illness or SMI (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder 1 & 2, schizoaffective disorders and psychosis) than for common mental disorders like anxiety and depression. There are also fewer arts and creative opportunities for people in this group.

This new report seeks to provide an overview of what is currently known about the ways in which arts and creativity affect the lives of those who live with a severe mental illness and poses some thought-provoking questions such as:

  • How can arts and creativity for everyone be positively impacted by those with an SMI? Can we move beyond simply ‘inclusion’?
  • What does ‘everyday creativity’ looks like for people with an SMI?
  • And could participatory arts even help us reappraise serious conditions by offering a unique view of the emotional and creative worlds of people living with an SMI?

The report was commissioned by the Baring Foundation and produced by Hannah Zeilig and Julian West (Unmapped), Corinna Hackmann and Jasmine Plant (Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust), and Melanie Handley (University of Hertfordshire).

The review used a rapid realist methodology, with literature and theory explored with the lived experience led art group, Art Angel, in Dundee.

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