Aesthetic engagement as health and wellbeing promotion

Anita Jensen (Centre for Culture and Health, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Wenche Torrissen (Department of Drama and Theatre, Volda University, Volda, Norway)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Publication date: 5 December 2019



Evidence shows that participating in arts activities can increase wellbeing. The purpose of this paper is to explore connections between aesthetic engagement and the wellbeing of participants on a ten weeks Arts on Prescription programme (AoP).


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven participants (with mild to moderate depression, stress or anxiety). A thematic analysis was used to identify themes in the data.


The findings illustrate that the participants in the AoP programme showed increased levels of motivation, and it opened up new worlds for connection with sensory experiences such as: relief, joy and peace of mind. The themes identified were: engagement and pleasure, deep emotional experiences and expanding worlds.


Aesthetic engagement through an AoP programme has the potential to stimulate the senses, motivate personal involvement and connect individuals with parts of themselves that has been neglected through illness. The participants experienced new possibilities through aesthetic engagement; offering connections to sensory, cognitive and emotional tools that can boost wellbeing. In this way, facilitated programmes such as AoP can contribute positively to public health. However, further studies are necessary in order to explore and establish the complex connections between aesthetic engagement and wellbeing.



No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


Jensen, A. and Torrissen, W. (2019), "Aesthetic engagement as health and wellbeing promotion", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 240-247.

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