How Finland uses art and creativity to help kids.

Posted by Jhan Dudley on

Art and a sense of self ( creativity to help kids )

Art can go a long way to developing a child's sense of self, and feeling of confidence. While many schools are cutting back on art in school, Finland is doing more, an example England hopes to copy.

Clinical psychologist Katherine Taylor looks at how Greater Manchester is putting the arts at the heart of its mental health strategy. Inspired by Finland’s positive experiences.

How art impacts mental health.

In 2017, my research with creativity to help kids for Health spread beyond the UK when a Churchill Traveling Fellowship enabled me to visit Finland, Belgium and the US. In order to explore best practice for the arts and culture in healthcare. My report Art Thou Well? Creative Devolution of Mental Health in Greater Manchester, which involves 40 organizations and more than 300 people. Assembles the myriad roles the arts could and do, play in the service of mental health. It and presents some of the most innovative, effective and ethical models of practice ever encountered.

Arts-based interventions can help foster those vital ingredients of recovery that we cannot target with medication or talking therapies alone.

The report looked at how Greater Manchester’s mental health strategy could benefit from considering the role of the arts and culture. Drawing on examples such as the re-purposing of an old Helsinki mental health asylum into a beautiful and accessible wellness centre. Or the LAND (League Artists Natural Design) studio in New York where young adults with learning disabilities are taught life skills through art.

The Finnish inspiration

Greater Manchester is making the arts and culture integral to its health strategy. Inspired by Finland and is based on evidence from this and other Nordic countries. For more than 40 years, Finland has had 40 arts promotion managers in government, to ensure that all citizens have access to the arts and culture.

The need for mental health awareness in Finland.

Finland had some of the highest suicide rates in the world. The Finnish government led a series of major cross-sector projects as part of its Art and Culture for well-being programme. Decisions like this indicate a clear understanding that culture and creativity can be useful tools for strengthening social inclusion at all levels.

These critical projects encouraged a groundswell of support to develop - with backers ranging from artists to front line clinical staff. As well as the rapid uptake of arts and health initiatives. They also identified a need to prepare and train artists to work in healthcare settings – and clinical staff to incorporate art.

In Finland, play and creativity are understood to be fundamental ingredients of problem-solving. As well as being important to well being, and critical to resolving health inequalities and dilemmas. The versatility of the arts is acknowledged. There are examples of the arts help people to engage with health and social services and connect generations. As well as communicate messages about mental health to new audiences. Art also supports recovery through skills development and social participation.

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