Since I left the health service in 2012, many changes have occurred, including crisis in funding, resources and staffing levels. At this time in 2017, the issues are reaching the national press in a way that they hadn’t done before. In the UK, the mental health service has been well known to be “the cinderella service”. Funding has always been seen as secondary for the environment of the clients…. not because it is less valued by staff, I would argue, but because all other considerations of the budget are always taken up quickly, with a cursory look at the inpatient wards themselves. This is understandable as staffing levels decrease and client and staff safety should be a priority. However, this leaves the repeated loss of the gains a deeper consideration of the environment affords mental health.
In the research information provided by Paintings for Hospitals (http://www.paintingsinhospitals.org.uk) it is clear that evidence supports art work in the inpatient environment to increase well being for clients and patients, reduce staff and increase staff retention. The Department of Health and the Arts council UK have worked together to produce extensive research, particularly over the last 10 years, to gain a better understanding of the process and gain evidence to advocate change. They have faced some criticism as in the foreword statement of the reports findings –
The many research studies this forward mentions are all documented and added to much of the qualitative research that was discovered in the 1980’s. They evidence clear recommendations for the inclusion of art, music, drama therapy to client \ staff benefits both in hospital and at home. The research findings can be found in the ” A prospectus for arts and health 2007″ – http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk.
From the research information evidence by Department of health and Arts council UK
The list of artists that are now appreciated and accepted as adding great value to the NHS is growing… I am so pleased to see this. It has took time, from the research available in the 1980’s it was only going to be a matter of time. I whole heartedly support it, as well as most of my colleagues. It has to be said that in reality there will always be detractors and in this the understanding of the benefits still needs to be evidenced to the people who can’t quite see arts essential need in providing good health care.