B4555 - Can arts engagement protect against common mental health issues in children and young people - 05/03/2024

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Naomi Warne | University of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Dr Helen Bould, Dr Gemma Hammerton, Dr Jon Heron
Title of project: 
Can arts engagement protect against common mental health issues in children and young people?
Proposal summary: 

This project sets out to investigate whether involvement in the arts can play a role in preventing anxiety, depression, and eating disorders among young people. By analysing data from large community studies tracking the development of children over time, we aim to achieve four main objectives:
1) Current Relationship: We will look into the connection between participating in the arts and the mental health of young individuals at the present moment.

2) Future Impact: We aim to understand if there's a link between participating in the arts at one time and later mental health outcomes of young people. This will help us determine if arts involvement could potentially act as a preventive measure against mental health issues.
3) Variations Across Time and Countries: Through comparing data from different cohorts, we will explore whether the relationship between arts engagement and mental health outcomes varies over time and across different countries.
4) Arts engagement as a protective factor: We will explore whether arts engagement may protect against later mental illness in children experiencing socioeconomic adversity using mediation methods.
By undertaking this careful analysis, we hope to provide high-quality evidence regarding the potential benefits of arts engagement in promoting good mental wellbeing in young people. This research could inform interventions and policies aimed at promoting mental health through creative activities, potentially offering valuable insights into preventive strategies for anxiety, depression, and eating disorders among young individuals.

Impact of research: 
This project will build robust evidence around the role of arts engagement in young people’s mental health. While this is a rapidly developing research area, there is a dearth of research using good-quality epidemiological methods. By providing a careful examination using youth cohort studies, we can improve our understanding of whether engagement in the arts may play a causal role in protecting against mental health issues. This will help confirm and identify targets for vital new treatments and prevention measures, or highlight that investment in alternative causal mechanisms would be more fruitful.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 28 February, 2024
Date proposal approved: 
Tuesday, 5 March, 2024
Epidemiology, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, Mental health, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity