• Qualitative Research in Arts and Mental Health: Context, meaning and evidence

Qualitative Research in Arts and Mental Health: Context, meaning and evidence

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ISBN 978 1 906254 39 1 (2012)
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The last two hundred years have seen the medicalisation of mental distress, and although it is evident that people want services that are more hopeful, creative and recovery-focused, the notion of providing mental health care that focuses less upon medical interventions and more upon creativity is complex. This is the first book published in the UK that brings together a range of key qualitative research studies providing evidence for the assertion that involvement in participatory arts can be specifically beneficial to people with a variety of mental health difficulties.
This book presents eleven key examples of arts-based research projects that have used various qualitative methods to capture the contexts and meanings of arts practice that in their own ways, sought to promote mental health. The methods are varied, but most have endeavoured to reflect the voice of the participant whether through narratives, ethnography or participatory action research.
To research the arts in mental health practice, perhaps researchers of the future need to be prepared to experiment with creative methodologies and have the faith that the imagination can inform us, that art is not non-cognitive but that it binds together both feeling and form in a way that can reveal the truth of the individual’s expression. What is clear from the chapters in this book is that participation in the arts can have transformational effects.

Introduction  Theo Stickley                                           

1.  The Arts and Mental Health: Creativity and inclusion Hester Parr

2.  Is Art Therapy?  Langley Brown                           

3.  Innovation, Arts and Mental Health: An evaluation of four innovative arts-based mental health projects Helen Brooks & David Pilgrim                                           

4.  Creating Something Beautiful: Art in mind Theo Stickley  

5.  Social Identity and Belonging: The Lost Artists Club Theo Stickley          

6.   Interview as Generative Practice in Arts and Wellbeing Partnership Work Julie Hanna &  Polly Moseley

7.   Movies, Movements and Moving Moments: Connecting film, user involvement and student learning Mick McKeown, Russell Hogarth, Fiona Jones, Mark Edwards,Keith Holt, Sarah Traill, Jane Priestley, Garry Watkins, Michael Hellawell, John Lunt, & Lisa Malihi-Shoja                    

8.   Working with Artists to Promote Mental Health and Well-Being in Schools: An evaluation of processes and outcomes at four schools Edward Sellman with Alma

9.   Art, Autoethnography, and the Use of Self Brendan Stone 

10. Film, Fractals and Emergent Themes Shaun & Marian Naidoo      

11. Catching Life: The contribution of arts initiatives to recovery approaches in mental health Helen Spandler, Jenny Secker, Lynn Kent, Suzanne Hacking & Jo Shenton        

      Final Thoughts Theo Stickley

Effective art practice should not involve patients as subjects to do something to, but active creators along with artist facilitators, and therefore many of the chapters look at the perspective of the latter and their own experience. The research examples use various qualitative methods to capture the contexts and meanings of arts practice with the aim of reflecting the voice of the particpant through narratives discourse, ethnography or participatory action research. Researchers are by nature curious, and this curiosity should extend to exploring new methods of inquiry that are flexible and reflexive, truly reflecting the experience of the subject – but seeing that subject as a human being … This, if anything, feels like the noble goal of Theo Stickley's Qualitative Research in Arts and Mental Health. To view art as a human experience in which the experience of humans matters. Francesca Baker, McPin website, October 2016.

This edited collection draws upon a wealth of practical experience in creating innovative creative arts projects. It makes a convincing case for qualitative approaches towards evaluation, emphasising the centrality of participant voices. A timely and important contribtion to the developing field of arts and health research. Stephen Clift, Professor of Health Education & Director of Research at the Sidney De Haan Research Centre, Canterbury Christ Church University.

This book draws together a wide range of research on mental health and participatory arts, demonstrating the rich diversity of qualitative methodologies, and highlighting the contribution of qualitative research to the growing evidence base. Its contributors explore the meanings and processes that frame creative participation, examining issues of stigma, recovery, inclusion, connectivity and belonging through art in a wide range of settings. It will be of interest to researchers, practitioners, students and anyone seeking to understand the potential of therapeutic (in the broadest sense) arts. Norma Dakin is Professor of Arts in Health, University of West of England.

Theo Stickley

Theo Stickley specialises in researching the Arts, Health & Wellbeing. He has led on the development of a national academic network funded by the Economic and Social Research Council to develop theory and promote knowledge transfer in this subject area. He has been researching the Arts, Health & Wellbeing for ten years at the University of Nottingham and he has become regarded an expert in this field. His PhD focused upon mental health promotion through participatory arts. He continues to be a practising artist and he also continues to research and publish widely in the area of Arts, Health & Wellbeing and his work is widely cited internationally. His commissioned consultancy work includes a national training programme for the Department of Health 2008-2009 funded by the Tate Modern, V&A, Wallace Collection and the Museums and Libraries Archive. Theo has 30 academic publications relating to Arts, Health & Wellbeing and has recently published a book: Qualitative Research in Arts and Mental Health with PCCS Books.

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Theo Stickley