The World Health Organisation links the arts and health and well-being

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released its first ever review of the global evidence linking the arts and health and well-being, confirming that engaging with the arts has a positive influence on both mental and physical health “from before birth to the end of life.” The MIA couldn’t agree more! 

Engaging with the arts can be beneficial for both mental and physical health. This is a key conclusion of a new report from the WHO Regional Office for Europe analysing the evidence from over 900 global publications – the most comprehensive review of evidence on arts and health to date.

“Bringing art into people’s lives through activities including dancing, singing, and going to museums and concerts offers an added dimension to how we can improve physical and mental health,” says Dr Piroska Östlin, WHO Regional Director for Europe a.i.
“The examples cited in this groundbreaking WHO report show ways in which the arts can tackle ‘wicked’ or complex health challenges such as diabetes, obesity and mental ill health. They consider health and well-being in a broader societal and community context, and offer solutions that common medical practice has so far been unable to address effectively,” Dr Östlin explains.

Arts and health throughout life

From before birth to the end of life, the arts can positively influence health. For example, young children whose parents read to them before bed have longer night-time sleep and improved concentration at school. Among adolescents living in urban areas, drama-based peer education can support responsible decision-making, enhance well-being and reduce exposure to violence. Later in life, music can support cognition in people with dementia – singing in particular has been found to improve attention, episodic memory and executive function.

You can read more about arts in healthcare and policy considerations on the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe website here: www.euro.who.int/can-you-dance-your-way-to-better-health-and-well-being-for-the-first-time,-who-studies-the-link-between-arts-and-health