Creative and age-appropriate approaches, delivered by a range of partners with blended expertise, can succeed in engaging children and young people in conversations and activities that support mental health.

“I hope to see arts-based options and creative environments as critical components of future approaches to mental health.” – Katherine Taylor, Fellow

Demand for UK mental health services has risen sharply. I am a clinical psychologist in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), and we’ve seen a threefold increase in referrals since 2020. Only one in three children and young people (CYP) with mental health needs can access services,* and even among those we see, around 40% do not improve. Young people themselves highlight access to services and stigma as key issues, and condemn our often gloomy settings. These issues, compounded by a workforce struggling with recruitment and retention, call for change.

The national THRIVE framework for system change emphasises a broader mental health support offer and prioritises the strengths, interests and existing relationships in the lives of CYP. I work at Greater Manchester i-THRIVE, managing the Arts, Culture and Mental Health programme. Diverse evidence suggests that engaging with the arts and culture benefits wellbeing in a wide range of ways** and that group-based arts engagement can promote and improve the mental health of CYP.

You can read Katherine’s blog in full on the Churchill Fellowship’s website 

A graphic showing swirls of paint and handprints