Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health, have jointly affirmed their recognition of the health and wellbeing benefits of creativity and arts.
The all-of-government Creative Ireland Programme, the Department of Health (Healthy Ireland), the Health Service Executive and the Arts Council co-hosted a national symposium on the positive benefits of creativity and the arts to health and wellbeing at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin. At the symposium, policy-makers and practitioners from the health, arts and culture sectors considered how best to harness the powerful contribution creative engagement can make to our health and wellbeing.
In opening the symposium, Minister Martin recognised the long and rich history of collaboration between the arts and healthcare sectors, and emphasised the need to create a more supportive and sustainable environment through greater collaboration and integration between the sectors. Two videos showcasing storytelling in the paediatrics ward of University Hospital Waterford and a music workshop with residents of St Camillus Nursing Home in Limerick provided examples of the types of creative engagement that support the delivery of acute and community healthcare in Ireland.
Minister Martin also announced additional pilot funding, through the Creative Ireland Programme, to explore closer collaboration between local arts and health sectors in the area of social prescribing. The initiative will assist G.P.s and other health practitioners to refer people to local arts and creative initiatives in 5 pilot locations in Waterford, Dublin, Donegal and Mayo where this would be beneficial for their wellbeing.
Minister Martin said, “we are fortunate to have an extensive nationwide human infrastructure – embedded in both culture and health sectors – tasked with supporting the wellbeing of Irish people. I will be interested to see whether encouraging these networks to collaborate locally can add value to our respective wellbeing ambitions.”
Minister Donnelly referenced the World Health Organisation reporting an extensive evidence base showing how engagement with the arts sector plays an important role in enhancing wellbeing and mental health noting, “the holistic nature of these types of artistic and cultural activities fits perfectly with our vision for health and wellbeing. Health is not just about the absence of disease, it is about recognising the importance and interconnectedness of physical, mental and social wellbeing.”
Both Ministers also warmly welcomed the roll-out of a new pilot creative initiative that will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the Traveller Community. The projects are being jointly funded by the Creative Ireland Programme, the Department of Health (Healthy Ireland), the Health Service Executive (Mental Health Unit / National Social Inclusion Office) and the Arts Council. The Traveller Wellbeing Through Creativity 2022 initiative will fund 5 projects worth nearly €250,000 that are co-designed and co-produced by Travellers in support of Traveller health and wellbeing.
Paul Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the HSE said, “I am delighted to see the ongoing and new arts and health projects being showcased today that are being delivered across the health service. Health service staff, attending both in person and virtually, will benefit from today’s event, building their knowledge in this area and creating more opportunities and awareness as we continue to utilise creative arts to benefit the wellbeing of service users and staff.”
Maureen Kennelly, Director, Arts Council said, “as the range of projects and discussion highlights, engagement and participation in the arts can make a significant contribution to our health and wellbeing. The Arts Council also sees the opportunities that this area of work presents for the many artists and arts organisations working in the area of Arts & Health, and values the important contribution of health sector colleagues, health service users, carers, friends and volunteers to the development and vibrancy of the arts in Ireland. We are committed to working with our colleagues at a national level to support the strategic development of this area into the future.”