Arts and minds
Unfold arts and mental health programme with Arts + Minds

Arts + Minds is a Health Service Executive arts and mental health programme based in Cork. It involves eight mental health settings, and aims to enhance the health and wellbeing of mental health service users through high quality engagement with the arts.

Crawford Art Gallery has been working with Arts + Minds since 2010. Projects are inspired by, or developed in response to, the Crawford Gallery collection and temporary exhibitions. Along with visual artist, Julie Forrester, the Gallery has collaborated with Arts + Minds to develop a range of visual arts projects and events. One of many highlights includes the inaugural screening of five short animation films in the Gallery, on World Mental Health Day in October 2011.

The Gallery has been working with community mental health service users and staff from the Mahon, Blackrock, Togher and Ballyphehane areas in particular. Comments from project participants include:

It’s great, I love being in the gallery”

[the arts] give... a sense of not being cut off, it’s integrated with our culture, the everyday stuff that people do in communities and the outside world...”

“We’ve been institutionalized, and completely the opposite of that is what we need”

I think coming into somewhere like the Crawford Gallery and using this space is really important’s inclusive”.

‘We are all on the same boat ….we are connected through developing a story’

‘I realised I had imagination’

‘It’s different because you are not talking about your illness, you are not discussing that, you are not discussing your medication. You are just like any other person when you are in there, you are just learning and having a laugh... just like any other person.’

Artist, Julie Forrester, describes the Unfold creative process “ the teamwork just fell into place in a very fluent way, it was never pointed out you’re going to do this or you’re going to do that, but people gravitated towards the things that they enjoyed doing and because they enjoyed doing them they were good at those aspects. So somebody who liked telling stories was the person who wrote the script, and somebody who liked technology was the person who did the computer, but at the same time people who’d never used the computer before, also had the opportunity to do that, and they were very focused, but in a very unpressurised way... I think teamwork was brilliant and having a bit of fun and a bit of a laugh as well, because things go wrong and they laugh, things go right and they laugh”.

As a cultural institution the Crawford Art Gallery hopes to support exploration, creativity and enjoyment. We understand that this aspect of our programme enriches the gallery, enhances opportunities for audiences to access expressions of culture and works towards reducing stigma. The programme enables people to remain involved in their community and aims to create a social outlet where individual personhood is valued. Stigma is often attached to members of our community who suffer from mental ill health, and we hope that through thoughtful engagement, Crawford Art Gallery can contribute to reducing such stigma.

Arts+Minds commissioned Lydia Sapouna from the Department of Applied Social Studies at University College Cork, funded by the Health Services National Partnership Forum to investigate the impact and potential of this art project along with a music project, within mental health care; Beyond Diagnosis: the transformative potential of the arts in mental health care recovery. The report was launched in 2012 by Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Disability, Mental Health and Older People, in the Cork City Millenium Hall.

You can access this report here. Beyond Diagnosis (6.7mb PDF file)

For more information about Arts + Minds please see