Arts on prescription: a review of practice in the U.K

Perspect Public Health. 2010 Nov;130(6):277-81. doi: 10.1177/1757913910384050.


The current levels of psychosocial distress in society are significant, as evidenced by the number of prescribed antidepressants and the numbers of working days lost as a result of stress and anxiety. There is a growing body of evidence that active involvement in creative activities provides a wide range of benefits, including the promotion of well-being, quality of life, health and social capital. In the U.K. there are currently a number of projects operating that offer Arts on Prescription for people experiencing mental health problems and social isolation. The purpose of such schemes is not to replace conventional therapies but rather to act as an adjunct, helping people in their recovery through creativity and increasing social engagement. Although the schemes are varied in their approaches and settings, the common theme is that there is a referral process and creative activities take place in the community facilitated by artists rather than therapists. This paper explores whether such schemes can be part of the solution to the current challenge of mental ill-health, and looks at the evidence supporting the value of such schemes which may influence government, funders and healthcare professionals to implement Arts on Prescription more widely.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Art Therapy / organization & administration*
  • Creativity
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • United Kingdom