Art activities can make life better: WHO

Art activities can make life better: WHO

Agency News

Copenhagen, Nov 13: Engaging with the arts can be beneficial for both mental and physical health.

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 said. '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,' WHO Regional Director for Europe Piroska Ostlin said.

'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 Ostlin explains.

The report reviews arts activities that seek to promote health and prevent ill health, as well as manage and treat physical and mental ill health and support end-of-life care. It was revealed on November 11 during an event in Helsinki, Finland. It also stated that 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 could support responsible decision-making, enhance well-being and reduce exposure to violence. Later in life, music could support cognition in people with dementia, singing in particular has been found to improve attention, episodic memory and executive function, the study further stated.

In health-care settings, arts activities can be used to supplement or enhance treatment protocols. For example listening to music or making art have been found to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment, including drowsiness, lack of appetite, shortness of breath and nausea; arts activities in emergency settings, including music, crafts and clowning, have been found to reduce anxiety, pain and blood pressure, particularly for children but also for their parents and dance has been found repeatedly to provide clinically meaningful improvements in motor scores for people with Parkinson’s disease. (UNI)