The role of arts activities in developing resilience and mental wellbeing in children and young people a rapid review of the literature

Perspect Public Health. 2017 Nov;137(6):337-347. doi: 10.1177/1757913917712283. Epub 2017 Jun 14.


Aims: This rapid review explores the role of arts activities in promoting the mental wellbeing and resilience of children and young people aged between 11 and 18 years.

Methods: A systematic search of the literature was undertaken across 18 databases; no date limit was set on publication. Search terms included a range of creative activities: music, dance, singing, drama and visual arts; these were combined with terms linked to aspects of mental health, emotional wellbeing and resilience. Only studies related to activities that took place within community settings and those related to extracurricular activities based within schools were included.

Results: Following the application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, eight papers were included in the review. The interventions used in the studies were diverse and the research was heterogeneous; therefore, narrative synthesis of the results was conducted. The findings from the studies are considered in terms of the contribution the activities make to building resilience of children and young people. It was found that participating in arts activities can have a positive effect on self-confidence, self-esteem, relationship building and a sense of belonging, qualities which have been associated with resilience and mental wellbeing.

Conclusions: Although the research evidence is limited, there is some support for providing structured group arts activities to help build resilience and contribute to positive mental wellbeing of children and young people.

Keywords: arts; children and young people; mental health; resilience.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Resilience, Psychological*