Youth, Mental Health and Culture

A Brainstorming Report by Voices of Culture

Voices of Culture – the structured dialogue between the European Commission and the cultural sector is delighted to announce the publication of the Brainstorming Report on the topic ‘Youth, Mental Health and Culture’.

Since the beginning of this century, scientific investigations on the impact of culture and the arts on health and well-being have resulted in a huge body of knowledge and a buzzing scene of activities. At the same time, the essential and systemic role that culture and the arts play in our society has not yet achieved the recognition it deserves from policymakers and the health and social sector.

In order to collect insights, experiences, and recommendations on this topic from civil society from the relevant sectors across Europe, the European Commission Structured Dialogue platform Voices of Culture invited participants from 53 selected organisations (from an Open Call) and 23 countries from the fields of culture, health, education, and social services to brainstorm over two days – 4th & 5th October 2022 – in Brussels.

The focus was on one of the most pressing issues of our time: Youth Mental Health. How can arts and culture address the multiple expressions of troubled young minds when facing the crises of our time? The objective was to gather and discuss the evidence and come up with recommendations for stronger participation of the arts and culture sector in public health in Europe.

In five thematic groups, the participants looked at the evidence and practice of the cultural and creative sectors on the mental health of young people from different angles. The key takeaways, the recommendations, and the conclusions are informed by their practical fieldwork which provides evidence of the potential for the prevention and the promotion of (mental) health, as well as for the management and treatment of ill health.

The findings are represented in the five chapters of the report. They lay out an extensive overview of successful projects that have been carried out by the group members or associated organisations for, with, and through young people and which proved to contribute to stabilising their mental health.

Written in an accessible and inclusive language, this document is aimed at both cultural practitioners on a local level, with concrete tips and practices but also provides people in policy making positions with useful tools for their work. The report features a comprehensive summary section, providing an overview of the main points of each chapter. 

The outcomes were presented to the European Commission (EC) on 8 December 2022, after which point the output was edited, and is now published and shared globally with practitioners on a local level and cultural sector stakeholders.

Voices of Culture is funded by the European Commission and implemented by Goethe-Institut. Its main objective is to provide a channel for the voices from the cultural sector to be heard at EU and member state levels, and strengthen the advocacy capacity of the cultural sector in policy debates whilst encouraging the sector and the Commission to work more closely together.