The benefits arts can have on mental health

Tue 08th October 2019

We are proud to be supporting Mental Health Week, 2019. Mental
health or ‘well-being’ is just as important as your physical health. It is
everyone’s business and we can all have moments where we feel down or stressed
and most of the time those feelings pass. However sometimes they develop into a
more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us.

You can have good days and bad days and your mental health can
change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your

At Impact Arts, we believe that arts and creativity can over
time help improve a person’s mental health. We run projects for children, young
people, older people and communities, aiming to changes lives through arts.

One of the projects we run is Craft Café, a group for over
60 year olds. Impact Arts developed Craft Café as a creative solution to the
plight of isolation and loneliness within older people. The workshops offer a
safe, social and creative environment where older people can learn new skills,
renew social networks, and reconnect with their communities. The activities,
self-directed by participants, harness the joy of creativity, artistic
expression and learning.

The workshops promote creative activity and self-expression, which is
so important at any age. It celebrates everyone’s journey and contributions
with an understanding that each person’s story is unique and invaluable. It
provides a chance to learn something new and to step outside of the daily
routine into a place where one can explore and dream.

Additionally, as part of its core values, Craft Cafe provides and encourages
choice and freedom for its members, many of whom are living with increased dependence
on others and a feeling of reduced autonomy as a result. All of these qualities
make Craft Café important, because what we are trying to express to everyone who
attends, both in actions and words, is that they matter. Their lives, their stories,
their artistic expressions, their wisdom – it all matters and deserves to be acknowledged
and celebrated. This is at the core of the social change that needs to happen
to alleviate some of the challenges facing older people. Through creativity and
the arts, through enablement and celebration, Craft Café is doing what it can one
day at a time.

The number of people with long-term conditions is increasing
and there is an ageing population who often experience high levels of physical
inactivity and social isolation. The arts have an important role to play in
this – through offering help, promoting well-being and creating a space for
social connection.

Taking part in art and creativity workshops can help people
deal with a wide range of mental health conditions. It helps people to improve
their mental health through creativity and helping many people to express
themselves, without having to use words.

Last year it was reported that 89% of our Craft Café members had an increase in physical and mental health.

“The Craft Cafe gives
me a target, a reason to get up and out, and helps stop feelings of loneliness.
I get bored sitting at home and staring at the TV. But after coming here, I
find myself practising my drawing at home instead of watching the telly!”
Steven, Craft Café Participant

“…Most impressively,
she has been able to decrease the dosage of medication she takes for
depression. This is something she sees as a direct result of coming to Craft
Café: “It gives me a reason to get up in the morning. If it was on every day of
the week, I’d be here.”
Elizabeth, Craft
Café Participant

If you are interested in joining a Craft Café Group, you can
find out more on the older persons section of our website.

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