Release And Hope

What role does creativity have to play in a health crisis? This is the question posed by this year’s Creativity & Wellbeing Week, running from 15 to 21 May. So timely as creative health and the health crisis have grown in parallel over these last few years. It’s during these years that I’ve started out as an arts for wellbeing practitioner, setting up my online initiative, Medley, in 2020.

These years have seen arts for wellbeing and creative health become familiar terms, although awareness still has a way to go. Variety is all: such a wide spectrum of artforms can help, with music, the visual arts and dance the most common so far. The Covid pandemic spurred many more people to seek out ways to support their mental health and wellbeing. But as recent years have brought growth to the sector, they’ve also brought the health and care sectors in the UK (and other countries) under ever more intense pressure. Covid 19 combined with many different issues to tip the NHS into – or close to – full scale crisis.

On the one hand then, creative health is seeing provision and demand grow. On the other, we have a struggling health system.

Illustrating this post is a word picture. The dark, negative words show the shadow the health crisis casts over so many lives. The strong colours of the words “Creativity=release & hope” embody creativity’s power to lift spirits and to enhance life within these very issues. Why release and hope?

I see time and again how creativity can become a release – either as a way to express issues and experiences, maybe through journaling (art as tool) or as a way to escape them (art as haven). And using creativity in health and wellbeing is all about hope – hope that every one of us can boost our own wellbeing. Hope that there are many imaginative and innovative ways out there of helping the whole person. And hope that the health system is about more than crisis, that it can still do far more than simply stagger on.

For in a country like the UK, which has one of the world’s largest economies, 21st century healthcare needs to be about far more than just getting by. It needs to develop models that are focused on prevention and on quality of life: such as creative health. This can strengthen and diversify health care and empower patients.

Yes, a lot depends on specific issues and situations. When urgent cancer treatment is delayed or an ambulance fails to arrive, creativity may well be little or no help or consolation. But creative health is far more than just a distraction. It has very real impacts on mental and physical health alike and how they interlink. It draws people together in community. And it deserves to grow and grow, within the health sector but also beyond, in as many different settings and models as possible.

Published by medleyisobel

My name is Isobel and I run Medley, an online initiative sharing art, nature and music for health and wellbeing.

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