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Evaluation of MK Arts for Health 'Arts on Prescription'

Date uploaded: September 9, 2013

People experiencing anxiety and depression who were referred on to a course of arts activities experienced significant benefits in terms of their personal and mental wellbeing.

These were the findings of an external evaluation of the first year of the Arts on Prescription project run by Milton-Keynes based arts charity MK Arts for Health and carried out by specialist arts consultancy, Willis Newson, supported by MK Arts for Health.

One participant interviewed for the evaluation found his wellbeing so improved that he was able to take on work again after years of unemployment. He said that Arts on Prescription was key to giving him the confidence just to apply for the job he now does.

Another said: “Just being able to dedicate times to myself. Time just for me. It’s rare. It also helps my confidence. I know I’m creative and artistic but I bog it down with stress and anxiety.”

Arts on Prescription provides a programme of arts activities on referral for adults with mild to moderate mental health conditions. The evaluation showed that, in conjunction with other mental health services available, the project offers an effective alternative tool to improving participants’ mental health and wellbeing and social confidence and increasing their access to and engagement with their community and with employment.

The evaluation found that introducing participants to art skills and techniques as part of a sociable group and in a safe and sympathetic environment helped to build their self-esteem and increase their confidence.

As a result of the course, participants reported a greater sense of personal and mental wellbeing; greater confidence and ability in social situations; and a greater desire to get involved in activities, including work, volunteering and an ongoing interest in art.

Participants found that Arts on Prescription changed their perspectives on their life and mental health, and it helped them to think about making further active changes.

A participant said: “Talking therapy is good, but the practical side was really important for me – just going out somewhere, doing something, meeting other people. It made a real difference.”

Click here to download the Executive Summary of the report.(92 KB)

Participant describing the impact of Arts on Prescription

Participant describing the impact of Arts on Prescription