Arts and Health South West (AHSW) commits to supporting good mental health in south west England.

Arts and Health South West has become a signatory to the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health from Public Health England (PHE).

In the south west, AHSW joins Bristol City Council, Cornwall County Council and Torbay Council as signatories to the Prevention Concordat. This marks the first time agencies across the community and care sectors have come together to make prevention a priority for mental health. Promoting good mental health is everyone’s responsibility and can only be achieved if organisations work together at local and national level.

AHSW’s projects, such as Art & Social Change with people in addiction and recovery; Alternative Visions with people who feel excluded from the mainstream art world, often due to mental ill-health; and Community Connections, a social prescribing project in Weston-super-Mare, show how the arts and culture can contribute to supporting people’s mental health.

“I came to the museum today alone, riddled with anxiety. It’s been a bad week. Some pieces in this exhibition have brought me great comfort and have made me feel connected to humanity again, at least for a while.”

Audience feedback from Alternative Visions exhibition

AHSW is working closely with PHE South West to spread learning and good practice through joint webinars and a regional conference, Creativity at the Heart of Human Flourishing. The AHSW Spring School in 2019 focussed on young people’s mental health and storytelling; and in 2020 will be on adult mental health and co-production with people with lived experience. AHSW’s regional strategy has mental health as a key priority.

One in six adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in their lifetime. This is influenced by the environment in which we are born, grow, live and work, meaning many of these problems can be prevented.

Having good mental health is important because it can help us to be more resilient, feel good and function well, have more positive relationships with those around us and deal with difficult times now and in the future.

Lily Makurah, national lead for public mental health at PHE, said:

“We’re delighted that Arts and Health South West has joined the growing list of organisations signing up to our Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health. This is designed to help communities promote good mental health and prevent mental health problems. Through local and national action across sectors, we can all contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing and reducing stigma for everyone.”

By signing up to the concordat, Arts and Health South West is not only showing public leadership in addressing mental health problems in local communities; they are also putting effective prevention planning arrangements in place, using resources from PHE.
As well as recognising that mental health is as important as physical health, this represents a movement away from stigma and fear, and towards achieving a fairer and more equal society.

For more information on how to become a signatory, contact publicmentalhealth@phe.gov.uk.

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