Arts Council of Northern Ireland

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World Mental Health Awareness Day, 10th October 2020

Friday 9th October 2020 at 1pm 0 Comments

Pictured are: Danielle McLaughlin and Alicia Kelly  from St Cecilia’s College with DJ Kwame Daniels from Bounce Culture Image: Pictured are: Danielle McLaughlin and Alicia Kelly from St Cecilia’s College with DJ Kwame Daniels from Bounce Culture

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with funding from the National Lottery and Department for Communities, is working across government to help improve mental health and wellbeing through the arts.

Over the past five years, appreciation of how arts and culture can support the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities has grown rapidly. Statistics from the Westminster All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Well-being in their 2017 report, ‘Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing’, found that arts and social activities can help meet major challenges facing health and social care. These include issues like ageing, loneliness, mental health, and other long-term health conditions. The report also concluded that the arts can help keep us well, aid recovery and support longer lives and the arts can help save money for the NHS and social care system.

Arts Council funding supports people and organisations to develop creative programmes for the whole of society and, as part of our work, we have developed a series of landmark initiatives which use the arts as tools to enrich lives and promote positive health and wellbeing. These include, the Arts and Older People’s Programme, ARTiculate ‘Young People and Wellbeing Programme’ and the Creative School’s Partnership.

Key Facts and Figures:

Arts and Older People’s Programme
The Arts and Older People’s Programme has now been running for 10 years. Developed in partnership with Public Health Agency and the Baring Foundation, the programme has invested £2million in projects and activities that help older people engage and participate in the arts to combat poverty, isolation and loneliness. So far over 28,000 people have benefitted from the programme and it is now internationally recognised for its pioneering approach. Activities range from intergenerational storytelling, to musical reminiscence for people living with dementia, to stilt walking.
Of those who have taken part in an Arts Council funded project, 88% said they felt empowered by their achievements and 82% said they now want to participate in more arts activities.

ARTiculate ‘Young People and Wellbeing Programme’
Funded by the Arts Council and PHA, The ARTiculate programme was set up in 2016 to support the five local Strategic Suicide Prevention Implementation Groups. Its aim was to engage young people throughout Northern Ireland in custom-made creative activities designed to strengthen their voice and empower them to articulate their story through words, drama and the visual arts. Over the past four years 49 projects have been funded, supporting activities for 2,839 young participants. Each project engaged with vulnerable young people and targeted those at higher risk of suicide or self-harm.  Feedback from the groups showed that:

  • 83% said their self-confidence has improved and they have more belief in themselves as a result of their participation
  • 77% said they are now more confident in expressing themselves
  • 71% said they are now better able to cope with a setback


Creative School’s Programme
The Arts Council, in partnership with the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative and Education Authority, launched the three-year Creative Schools Partnership in Spring 2018. Its purpose is to bring more creativity into the classroom in order to improve educational outcomes throughout the curriculum for students from disadvantaged areas or backgrounds, reduce educational inequalities, improve community relations and contribute to delivering the TBUC strategy. Eleven schools have participated in the programme and 306 pupils have participated so far. Feedback from the schools has been overwhelmingly positive. All of them said the programme supported their school development priorities, that pupils gained in confidence and participants attitudes towards their education had improved.

To find out more about the Arts Council’s programmes and funding support sign up to the Arts Council’s weekly newsletter http://artscouncil-ni.org/signup

For advice and information on how to take care of your mental health go to www.mindingyourhead.info

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