Transformation Partners in Health and Care > News > Six arts-based mental health programmes confirmed for Merton and Southwark

Six arts-based mental health programmes confirmed for Merton and Southwark

Healthy London Partnership (HLP), in partnership with Arts Council England and the Mayor of London, is pleased to announce that six arts and cultural organisations have been awarded funding to run pilot social prescribing programmes in Merton and Southwark boroughs aimed at helping to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The successful arts and cultural organisations are:

  • Clod Ensemble – leading artist-led training for primary care, link workers and cultural organisation on arts and health (Southwark and Merton)
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery – developing a participatory arts programme for social prescribing based out of the Tessa Jowell Health Centre (Southwark)
  • Mental Fight Club – using art making and display to convey personal experiences and stories in small online groups led by artists (Southwark)
  • Outside Edge Theatre Company – delivering drop-in drama groups virtually or in small groups for people affected by addiction (Southwark)
  • SafeGround – providing a programme to reduce anxiety through reading and creative writing in a therapeutically informed group (Merton)
  • Studio Upstairs – delivering weekly small group arts sessions virtually in a psychologically informed environment and supplemented with phone and online support (Merton)

GPs and other health and social care professionals in the two boroughs will be able to refer people to the projects, as part of a social prescribing approach. During the Covid-19 response period, activities will take place online with telephone support but, longer term, face-to-face support is planned.

To support shared learning and development, a community of practice* is also being created as part of the wrap around support for those that have received the awards.

Submissions were judged closely on how they might meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of people in each of the boroughs, on the quality of their track record in arts and health work, and on their specific approach to delivering or supporting cultural social prescribing.

The judging panel included representatives from Southwark and Merton’s Clinical Commissioning Groups, and also from the LENS network – the lived experience network which promoted the benefits of creative and cultural engagement to individual and collective wellbeing.

The initiative is part of a £60,000 funding move which saw bids submitted by arts organisations in spring this year to design and test new integrated service models for mental health.

This formed part of a wider programme, which separately also included musculoskeletal pain and employment initiatives. In London, musculoskeletal disorders and mental health problems are the most common conditions that influence people’s ability to work. As part of the ‘Work and Health Accelerator’ model, this initiative ultimately aims to provide as many people as possible with access to the support they want and need to enable them to get back into work or continue working.

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries said: “It’s clear that creativity can play a powerful role supporting our physical and mental health. In these challenging times more people than ever have turned to film and drama, art, craft, design and music as a source of comfort, support and distraction. These brilliant arts projects will make a big difference supporting mental health and well-being across south London.”

Jane Findlay, Head of Learning and Audience Development at Dulwich Picture Gallery: “We will support our local community to be healthier and happier through piloting a new cross-arts creative social prescribing programme at the Tessa Jowell Health Centre. This new health centre in East Dulwich is rooted in local need and the work we are doing there will support its service users to harness the arts to support their health. Here at the Gallery we are all aware of the important role creativity can play in wellbeing and we are delighted to be supported by Healthy London Partnerships to deliver this work in partnership with key Southwark arts organisations.

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