Get access

Arts In-Reach: taking ‘bricks off shoulders’ in adult mental health inpatient care


T. Stickley, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Duncan MacMillan House, Porchester Road, Nottingham NG3 6AA, UK, E-mail:


Accessible summary

  • • This research report is focusing upon arts activities on inpatient mental health units in the UK.
  • • There is little current research about such activities.
  • • People are often bored and feel powerless on inpatient wards.
  • • Engaging with arts activities can help increase people's social interactions and also help people to express themselves.


This article reports upon a research study focusing on a programme of work called Arts In-Reach. The programme was designed to provide a participatory arts programme for the adult mental health inpatient wards in a city in the UK. The aim of the research study was to explore the experiences of people who have engaged with the Arts In-Reach programme of work. Eleven qualitative interviews were conducted among participants of the programme. Consistent with other research, this study reveals how people on the wards often feel powerless and bored. The feelings of boredom are exacerbated as people recover. Participating in the arts groups has alleviated some of those feelings. Furthermore, participation has also increased people's social interactions and given opportunity for self-expression. The arts activities also provide a distraction for people and some appreciated being able to talk about matters other than their ‘illness’. The arts activities helped people to think about their future and how they might take their artwork forward. For some people, thinking about the future helped with restoring a sense of hope, a quality imperative for recovery.