Arts & Health South West is an information, support and advocacy organisation for everyone who believes in the value of creativity in enhancing health and wellbeing. Arts & Health is an umbrella term that includes these pursuits: bringing visual arts, music, performances and art-making opportunities into health care environments; the creative arts therapies like music therapy, dance therapy, art therapy; community arts projects that address health or social problems faced by a group of people; arts-based health research; arts-based health communication; using the arts in the education of health care professionals, etc.
So, the aim of my role as an intern is to check and update information on artists from our collection, involving research and communication with the artists to obtain up to date information on their work or current practice, or both, which is then presented on our website.
Over the past decade, health psychologists have cautiously begun looking at how the arts might be used in a variety of ways to heal emotional injuries, increase understanding of oneself and others, develop a capacity for self-reflection, reduce symptoms, and alter behaviors and thinking patterns.
Volvement in this area in the wider UK includes contributing to the Arts For Health autumn programme at The Hive Arts Centre in Shrewsbury in 2010 which was run jointly with the Early Intervention Team from the South Staff and Shropshire NHS, looking at practical ways of using music to encourage positive mental health outcomes for voluntary service users.
There is also evidence that use of art and music reduces hospital stays, with studies showing earlier discharges among patients taking part in visual and performing arts interventions than among those not doing so. 69 , 70 In 1 study, surgery or critical care patients who participated in guided imagery or had a picture of a landscape on their wall had a decreased need of narcotic pain medication relative to their counterparts and left the hospital earlier.