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The impact of a national mental health arts and film festival on stigma and recovery

Quinn, N. and Shulman, A. and Knifton, L. and Byrne, P. (2011) The impact of a national mental health arts and film festival on stigma and recovery. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 123 (1). pp. 71-81.

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Abstract

This study aims to evaluate the impact of a national mental health arts festival for the general public, encompassing a wide variety of art forms and themes. An evaluation was undertaken with 415 attendees from 20 different events, combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. The findings demonstrate positive impact on the relationship between arts and mental health. Events increased positive attitudes, including positive representations of people’s contributions, capabilities and potential to recover. They did not decrease negative attitudes. Intended behaviour change was modest and one film event increased audience perceptions of dangerousness. The paper argues that the arts can change stigma by constructing shared meanings and engaging audiences on an emotional level. Carefully programmed, collaborative, community-based arts festivals should form an integral part of national programmes to address stigma and to promote mental health and wellbeing, alongside traditional social marketing and public education approaches.