University of Western Australia: The art of good mental health

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Most people enjoy listening to music, reading novels, concerts, the movies – what they don’t realise is arts activities, for as little as 20 minutes per day, could improve their mental health.

“People need to give themselves permission to be creative and to make time for the arts activities they enjoy.”

Dr Christina Davies, Director of the Centre for Arts, Mental Health and Wellbeing WA, UWA
Dr Christina Davies, Director of the Centre for Arts, Mental Health and Wellbeing WA at the University of Western Australia said “mental health issues are on the rise, but there is strong evidence that just like sport, taking part in the arts for entertainment or as a hobby can strengthen mental health”.

To increase community awareness of the impact of recreational arts on mental health, the Good Arts, Good Mental Health Project has been developed. This cross-sector, multi-university project led by UWA, is currently calling for input from the general public in the development of a campaign, courses and programs.

Book reading CARD

“We’d love community feedback via our consultation survey to guide the project” Dr Davies said. “People can also nominate to get involved in focus groups and receive updates by going to the UWA Good Arts Good Mental Health website or via our Twitter or Instagram account @artshealthwa”.

The project is based on Dr Davies’ multi-award winning PhD research that quantifies the arts-mental health relationship and highlights the benefits of the arts on health including increased happiness, confidence, self-esteem, relaxation and reduced social isolation.

The project is funded by the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, which is an initiative of the WA State Government, and two of Australia’s major philanthropic foundations, The Ian Potter Foundation and new funding partner, The Minderoo Foundation. The project is also supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries; CircuitWest and St John of God Health Care.

“People need to give themselves permission to be creative and to make time for the arts activities they enjoy,” Dr Davies said. “People also need to be aware that you don’t have to be good at art for the arts to be good for you.”

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