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Enhancing public mental health and wellbeing through creative arts participation

Tony Gillam (Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 18 October 2018

Issue publication date: 22 November 2018




The purpose of this paper is to explore how participation in creative arts activity can enhance public mental health and wellbeing. It is informed by both the author’s clinical practice with service users and carers and by research.


The approach taken is to draw selectively on research in the field of creativity, creative arts and wellbeing, focusing in particular on the use of music and creative writing, and to incorporate learning from clinical experience to explore what is understood about the health and wellbeing benefits of creative arts activity.


There is evidence that creative arts activity is beneficial to mental health and wellbeing. Arts activities that involve active participation appear to offer the greatest benefits. Creative arts participation can help people with diagnosed mental health difficulties to recover from mental illness. Moreover, creative arts activities can also promote wellbeing in the general population.

Research limitations/implications

The paper does not provide a comprehensive review of the literature in this field.

Practical implications

The paper suggests that if nurses and other mental health professionals are to play a full role in facilitating flourishing then they will need to learn more about using creative arts in practice and will need to become involved and encourage others to do so.

Social implications

The paper suggests it is important that creative arts activities should be participatory, so they become a vehicle not only for self-expression but also for participation in groups and communities, increasing connectedness and social inclusion.


This paper fulfils a need for a wider understanding of the health and wellbeing benefits of creative arts activity.



Gillam, T. (2018), "Enhancing public mental health and wellbeing through creative arts participation", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 148-156.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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