Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery: connecting communities for mental health and wellbeing

"A time to question: who is helping whom today, who is recovering whom?" - Professor Paul Crawford

At a time when two in three of us are experiencing a mental health problem in our lifetime, the Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery (CPMR) programme offers a radical shift in vision, encouraging the forming of resilient communities of mutual hope, compassion and solidarity.

CPMR is a highly collaborative programme funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/K003364/1). It aimed to examine how creative practice in the arts and humanities can promote the kinds of connectedness and reciprocity that support 'mutual recovery' in terms of mental health and well-being.

The CPMR programme has led to multiple, high profile and diverse impacts, and has driven new and evolving research with more than £3m additional funding. It also contributes ongoing non-academic community and clinical initiatives for advancing mental health and well-being.

There is a need for health, social care, education and arts organisations to consider promoting more shared creative practices to benefit the mental health and well-being of all communities that they serve and developing strategies for how ‘mutual recovery’ opportunities can be maximised to enhance their environments in feasible and innovative ways. 

In addition, professionals in these organisations need to consider the benefits of engaging in shared creative practices with their peers, other professionals and non-professionals, not least people with experience of mental health difficulties and their family carers. 

Further research is required on how other kinds of creative practice beyond this study might promote ‘mutual recovery’ of mental health and well-being. This will address not only the challenge of connected communities, but also enable us to consider a variety of related policy challenges concerned with well-being and social relationships. The need to enhance social capital, promote active citizenship and the amelioration of loneliness can all be addressed via these kinds of activities.

Creative arts initiatives can be an effective way of meeting growing calls for a shift of emphasis in mental health services provision towards social perspectives, a community development approach and of enhancing relationships and social support in the context of the well-being agenda.

For further information, and a copy of the CPRM Final Report and Impact Statement, please visit the Health Humanities website: www.healthhumanities.org/creative_practice_mutual_recovery/ 

To view the CPMR digital showcase, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website: http://cpmr.mentalhealth.org.uk/