Arts and Health RG Logo Final

The Covid pandemic led to a nationwide increase in physical and mental health needs, particularly amongst the young, the elderly and minority groups. There is subsequently a critical bottleneck in supply and demand for mental health services in the UK, especially for child and adolescent mental health.

Practicing professional art therapists are currently oversubscribed with referrals from the NHS while effective alternative arts-led approaches to physical and mental health, recognised as effective by arts and health professionals, are not widely accessible to the publics that would benefit from them. At the same time self-care, social engagement, collaboration and the healing arts have moved to the foreground of contemporary arts practices.

The crucial role of art as a largely untapped public health resource has been acknowledged by All Party Parliamentary Group on arts, health and wellbeing which published its report Creative Health in 2017. Supporting and complementing this is an extensive literature on the effectiveness of arts and humanities interventions on social health and wellbeing. Professor Paul Crawford, an associate member and advisor to the group, has co-authored several books evidencing this, including Health Humanities (2015) and The Routledge Companion to Health Humanities (2020).

The Arts and Health Research Group is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary initiative combining expertise from the Schools of Arts, Allied Health and Community, Education, Humanities, Medicine and Social Work which will develop a range of projects investigating the therapeutic potential of the arts and humanities within traditional health and wellbeing contexts and wider social settings.

Over the next 3 years, we will seek funding for projects that build on partnerships with our associate members in other UK Universities, curate events engaging the public in the arts and health debate and develop projects that support, explore and evidence the profound therapeutic and public health benefits of participation in the arts.

Areas of Focus

  • The therapeutic use of arts, culture and humanities for health, mental health and wellbeing in the community.
  • Research to consider how the arts and humanities are applied to enable better understanding about health, wellness and illness.
  • The training of medical, therapeutic and arts practitioners in the application of arts-based approaches to mental health and wellbeing services.
  • Arts led approaches towards innovative social health solutions.
  • Innovations in data collection for quality of life and health outcomes through participation in arts-based activities.

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The Arts and Health initiative began with a public symposium in January 2022 which responded to the recognition of a range of researchers at Worcester working in this area and to the need for a strong research grouping in the School of Arts which could reach out to researchers in other schools, colleges and beyond.  

It included presentations by colleagues working in dance, health humanities, medical practice, paediatric care and psychotherapy.  


Therapeutic Landscapes: Ritual, Folklore and Wellbeing

Members of the Arts and Health Research Group, in collaboration with the Folk Cultures Special Interest Research Group, have organised the Therapeutic Landscapes: Ritual, Folklore and Wellbeing conference that will bring together artists, academics and historians whose work explores the therapeutic value of making art in natural environments - particularly places associated with healing and pilgrimage - using traditional craft-based and ritual practices.   

The event will take place at the Art House, Castle Street, Worcester
 on Saturday March 9thand Sunday March 10th, 2024. You can see the full program of speakers and panels here. For those with institutional support tickets are £90 for both days and £30 for those without.


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Friends of the Future Open Space Event: Social Psychotherapy and Arts

Members of the Arts and Health Research group, in collaboration with Friends of the Future and Northern School of Contemporary Dance, have organised an Open Space event at Herd Farm in Leeds on the weekend of the 24th and 25th February 2024 exploring the idea of Social Psychotherapy and Arts. Spaces are limited but you can register for the event here.    



Associate Members


  • Emalee Beddoes-Davis (Curator Birmingham Museum and ArtGallery)
  • Georgia Cooper (The Old Surgery / Anchor Therapy, Leeds)
  • Dr Paul Crawford (Professor of Health Humanities, University of Nottingham)
  • Dr Tom Dawson (Consultant Paediatrician, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust)
  • Dr Azadeh Fatehrad (Senior Lecturer, Design Enterprise, Kingston University)
  • Kate Genever (Artist)Clare Purcell (Executive Director, Meadow Arts)
  • Dr Rosie Wellesley (Author, Illustrator, Kingstone Surgery, Herefordshire)


Self-Funded PhD Projects

Many of our self-funded doctoral students come to Worcester with their own project ideas. However, our Research Groups and Centres have put together some ideas for potential PhD projects that they would be interested to supervise around their particular areas of expertise.    

If you are interested in one of these projects, please contact the lead supervisor to have a chat about your interests and the project idea. If you then wish to the apply for this particular project, please go to our Course Search and select the relevant research degree programme area.  

An application link can then be found towards the bottom of each programme page. In your application, please remember to clearly highlight that you are applying for one of our un-funded MPhil/PhD project ideas so we can be sure to remove this from the website, should your application be successful.