This is the first published book in the UK that brings together a range of key qualitative research studies which provide evidence for the assertion that involvement in participatory arts can be specifically beneficial to people with a variety of mental health difficulties. 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 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.