Image shown: Art installation depicting paper dolls holding hands: Arts

Image shown: Art installation depicting paper dolls holding hands: Arts

It is widely recognised that many mental health problems develop in childhood and adolescence. The Greater Manchester i-THRIVE Arts, Culture and Mental Health programme was established to build on the known links between creativity and wellbeing, arts, culture and health, to bring innovative and age-appropriate solutions to the challenge of meeting the mental health needs of Greater Manchester’s young people.

Throughout July 2020, the GM i-THRIVE team are featuring the Arts, Culture and Mental Health Programme and welcoming practitioners working in children and young people’s services to become Arts, Culture and Mental Health Ambassadors. Helpful resources and the evidence surrounding the field of arts and culture as supportive mental health options will be shared throughout the month.

Launch of evaluation framework 
The team are brokering new partnerships with the cultural sector to improve the links to health and social care. A range of arts-led treatment options have been developed for delivery in NHS services including group performance art and craft-based interventions. These ‘proof of concepts’ will be subject to evaluation, using a new cross-sector evaluation framework developed in collaboration with arts providers across GM including Arts Council England. This framework will be launched for wide use at the end of July.

The GM i-THRIVE team aim to ensure that the benefits of arts and culture, and viable arts-led treatment options, are realised by the wider system in an evidenced-based way.

Creative and arts-based activities can support mental health in many important ways:

  • storytelling can aid sense-making and answer questions in accessible ways
  • arts engagement can provide relaxation, distraction and absorption
  • arts engagement has been shown to reduce the harmful effects of stress on the body and protect the immune system
  • arts activities build self-esteem, sense of achievement and pride
  • culture and the arts can engender a sense of awe, an emotion with social benefits
  • culture improves connection and belonging
  • creative exploration helps to foster meaning and purpose during unsettling times

Further information
To learn more about the Arts, Culture and Mental Health Programme hosted on the THRIVE national website visit

Twitter handles: @GMiTHRIVE and @communikatt
Join the conversation at #GMMAKING

The i-THRIVE Programme works with over 70 areas in England to improve services for children and young people’s mental health using the THRIVE Framework for system change. The vision of the GM i-THRIVE is to improve mental health support and provision across Greater Manchester, and have the whole system working in the nationally-delivered ‘THRIVE-like’ way. We work to help the population prevent mental health problems, improve access to assets-led mental health support, and enhance the skills and confidence across the system in preventing and responding to mental health needs.


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