A new £600,000 funding programme will improve the health and wellbeing of young people by creating custom-made arts projects which will give a voice to them through drama, music, visual arts and literature.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Public Health Agency (PHA) are making the joint investment over the next three years, working with a wide range of providers to promote the emotional health and wellbeing of young people.
‘ARTiculate’, the Arts Council’s Young People & Wellbeing Arts Programme, will work in partnership with community organisations to deliver tailored arts projects to groups of young people across Northern Ireland.
The announcement was made at an event on Monday at The Glass House, Stormont, and was welcomed by Minister for Health, Michelle O’Neill, MLA, who said: “The arts as a public health resource is beginning to be more widely appreciated, and access to the arts for our young people are now more important than ever.
The ARTiculate programme, which supports the Protect Life 2 strategy, will challenge issues such as stigma, prejudice and discrimination associated with mental health and wellbeing, which all too many of our young people face every day.”
The creation of the fund follows on from the recent publication of the Health Survey NI 2015/16, which showed 29% of females and 13% of males aged 16-24 had a possible mental illness.
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “The positive links between engagement in the arts and wellbeing are firmly established. The ARTiculate programme is an Arts Council initiative, jointly funded by the Public Health Agency, which aims to increase access to the arts for young people whose health and wellbeing may be at increased risk.
“Working together with the Public Health Agency, this new programme will open up opportunities for young people to engage in the arts and the many benefits that brings, promoting self-expression, and developing self-confidence and self-motivation. Over the next three years we estimate that more than 35 groups will benefit from this programme, working with artists and arts organisations to find positive channels for self-expression, and marking the beginning of a life-long interest in the creative arts.”
Andrew Dougal, Chair of the PHA, said: “The Public Health Agency looks at innovative ways to improve people’s health and wellbeing, particularly with those young people with whom we most want to work. So this programme with the Arts Council is a perfect example, using arts to give a voice to young people and encouraging help-seeking behaviour.
“The PHA recognises the positive impact that the arts can play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of our young people. Participants will benefit in a number of ways, making new friends and connections, developing new skills, gaining confidence in their abilities and learning more about the help and support that is available on mental health.”
For more information visit www.artscouncil-ni.org