This report from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe presents findings on the effects of the arts in improving physical and mental health and well-being. In relation to potential applications within the health sector, the arts have been organized into five broad categories: performing arts; visual arts, design and craft; literature; culture; and online, digital and electronic arts. The arts involve the mind and body through aesthetic engagement, imaginary thinking, sensory activation, emotion evocation, and cognitive stimulation, leading to real psychological, physiological, social, and/or behavioral health outcomes. These outcomes can take place in health prevention, promotion, management, and/or treatment, making the arts an essential tool to improve wellness. Countries taking the lead with policies intersecting both the art and health sectors include England, Finland, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden. The arts can help across all conditions, from brain injury to mental illness to cancer, and shape behaviors from mother-infant bonding to speech and language development. The report calls for further support of: art interventions such as community mental health programs; research in the overlap between arts and health; the availability of culturally diverse forms of art; public awareness of the health benefits of arts engagement; humanities education; and training of health-care professionals.
Source: World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe