Various manifestations of the arts have been employed in mental health care as successful diversional and therapeutic interventions, and as an adjunct to mental healthcare professional education. There is now a current groundswell of the use of the arts and humanities in both the practice of research and the representation and dissemination of findings. Here, we first point to the potential ability of the arts that can be used to re-humanize the world of health and social care and its underpinning sciences. Second, we highlight the nature and relevance of this more aesthetic movement and its potential to enable meaningful engagement with people in order to facilitate shared understandings of concretely lived experiences. Finally, we use a long-standing philosophical framework, the ‘lifeworld’, as an exemplar to demonstrate how the wholeness and essence of human being can be revealed or shown through art. In doing so, we make the tentative suggestion that phenomenology and the lifeworld approach may be a useful philosophical framework for underpinning the use of arts in mental health nursing.