Getting creative for better health and wellbeing

June 19, 2024

Last month (20 – 26 May) included Creativity and Wellbeing Week – a celebration of the impact that creativity has in helping people to live healthier, happier lives.

We learned about the power of Creative Health at one of our regular LUNCH & LEARN sessions. Michael Cunliffe, creative health strategic manager for the Northumberland County Council and North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, gave us an insight into the impact and potential of Creative Health, as well as the opportunity to experience it ourselves in a short draw-along exercise. Please be sure to take a look at the recording, if you haven’t done so already.

Michael shared with us that increasing evidence is showing how arts and creativity can improve people’s lives. A recent cohort study by University College London (UCL) found that:

  • Children aged 7 who demonstrated higher levels of ‘creativity’ (as defined by teacher observations) had a 22% lower risk of behavioural instability, 31% lower risk of social and behavioural maladjustment, and 36% lower risk of maladjusted internalising behaviours.
  • Children and young people aged 11 to 21 have fewer behavioural issues (e.g. antisocial and criminal behaviour) if they participated in creative group activities, and those aged 12 to 19 were less likely to use substances (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana).
  • Adults who took part in creative activities for their mental health reported lower levels of mental distress, higher mental functioning, a greater ability to cope with mental health issues in daily life, and had greater life satisfaction, even when accounting for socio-economic and demographic factors.
  • Adults who took part in creative activities in their 50s are 20% less likely to develop a disability, 25% less likely to have chronic pain and 32% less likely to develop depression in their 60s.

Read the summary report here…


Hear it for yourself

To hear from residents themselves about how creativity has made an impact in their lives, take a few minutes to watch one (or more) of these short videos:


Try it yourself!

Arts and creativity are powerful ways to help everyone, including ourselves. Take this as an opportunity to make some time to ask yourself what you do, used to do, or perhaps always wanted to do creatively and give it a go. Check out the offers at your local library or community hub and if you need a little inspiration at home, here are a few resources:


Thank you to Michael for your time, and inspiring us to get creative!

If you have a creative health improvement story that you would celebrate and share, please do not hesitate to get in touch.



Pemberton House, Colima Avenue Sunderland Enterprise Park Sunderland, SR5 3XB

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