Working together to scale up place-based arts initiatives that support the mental health of children and young people

  • Chen, Fei (CoI)
  • Thurston, Scott (PI)
  • Omylinska-Thurston, Joanna (CoI)
  • Khadhesari, Zarnie (CoI)
  • Moula, Zoe (CoI)
  • Schmidt-Sane, Megan (CoI)
  • Breed, Ananda (CoI)
  • Charnock, Vicky (CoI)
  • Hussein, Nusrat (PI)
  • Ashton, Mark (CoI)
  • Tyler-McTighe, Daniel (CoI)
  • Thackray, Helen (CoI)
  • Nicholson, Julie (CoI)
  • Salla, Michael (CoI)
  • Ranote, Sandeep (CoI)
  • Tyrer, Charles (CoI)
  • Chong, Duane (CoI)
  • Smith, Nicola (CoI)
  • Gooder, Alexa (CoI)
  • Rees, Elaine (CoI)
  • Ross-Williams, Rebecca (CoI)
  • Deadman, Rachel (CoI)
  • Daly, Anna (CoI)
  • Sandford, Stephen (CoI)
  • Arts, Odd (CoI)
  • Chitsabesan, Prathiba (CoI)
  • Chris, Hart (CoI)
  • Nicola, Hopson (CoI)
  • UK, Savera (CoI)
  • Legg, Helen (CoI)

Project Details


Children and young people (CYP) are experiencing a significant mental health (MH) crisis that is threatening their future. Deeply rooted health inequalities perpetuate this crisis and call for immediate action. This project will promote easy access to best practice in local arts activities that support the diverse MH needs of CYP and thus enable them to take better control of their lives. By supporting the MH of CYP the project will meet an important NHS priority contributing towards tackling the health inequalities affecting their lives.

We will build on successes from Arts for the Blues (AH/W007983/1), a project that received funding from AHRC for phase one of this programme and successfully scaled up the use of an evidence-based creative psychological intervention in the North West. We will also draw on a track-record of 25+ years of engaging CYP in arts activities, and on our extensive co-production experience.

Co-creation will therefore become central to this work. We will focus on CYP aged 9-13, a group at significant risk of developing MH problems whilst transitioning from childhood to early adolescence. They will be encouraged to act as co-researchers developing skills they can use after the completion of the project, ensuring direct benefits.

We expect that co-creation will lead to meaningful engagement of CYP with this study that aims to generate new, scalable evidence concerning:

(A) how to access arts activities that best support the MH of CYP;

(B) how to evaluate arts activities that meet the diverse MH needs of CYP;

(C) how to maximise the benefit of arts activities for as many CYP as possible.

We will create a digital platform where evidence-based local arts activities will become easily accessible for CYP, their families, relevant organisations and services. We will do this by identifying good local arts practice that addresses the diverse MH needs of CYP, especially those who are often under-represented. Six CYP Creative Health Associates will be employed to work in areas with marked health inequalities and establish local collaborations between community partners and existing social prescribing link workers. They will also work with the research team to provide easy and sustainable access to arts activities and thus, bypass local barriers.

The active involvement of Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) (e.g., Lancashire and South Cumbria and Cheshire and Mersey Care), medical leads and medical directors of CYP’s MH, NHS trusts, schools and community organisations will encourage collaboration within and across systems, enabling the development of an agreed evaluation framework of best practice in arts activities. This will support streamlining access to therapeutic uses of the arts as well as scaling up and adopting the outputs from the study in the North West and beyond.

Finally, we will develop and share the project outputs with our 46 non-academic national and international collaborators, making an active contribution towards tackling health inequalities that benefits the MH of CYP wherever they live.

Short titleArts4Us: Arts initiatives for CYP
StatusNot started

Collaborative partners

  • Edge Hill University (lead)
  • University of Salford
  • University of Lincoln
  • University of Liverpool
  • King's College London
  • Mersey Care NHS Trust
  • University of East Anglia
  • ArtZ Centre
  • BarrowFull
  • Blaze Arts
  • DanceSyndrome
  • Everton in the Community
  • Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Gregson Community and Arts Centre
  • Grow Wellbeing C.I.C.
  • Institute of Development Studies
  • Kooth Digital Health Ltd
  • Liverpool Learning Partnership
  • Ludus Dance
  • More Music
  • NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB)
  • Odd Arts
  • Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Pulse Regeneration
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Savera UK
  • Tate Liverpool
  • The Poetry Society
  • Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust
  • Kendal Windows on Art
  • Liverpool Lighthouse

Research Institutes

  • Health Research Institute

Research Centres

  • Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing
  • Sport and Mental Health Research Centre


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