A new project aiming to improve the mental wellbeing of citizens - NDPHS

A new project aiming to improve the mental wellbeing of citizens

9 February, 2023

Arts on Prescription is a concept that has already been tested on small scale programs in countries like the UK, Sweden, and Denmark. The idea is that people with poor mental wellbeing due to conditions such as depression, stress or anxiety, or people at risk of developing such conditions, receive a prescription, not for medicine or therapy but for taking part in regular art activities in group settings. This has been proven to have a positive effect on mental health.


The partners of the project will develop a model programme that is based on state-of-the-art evidence and experience, but adaptable to different local conditions and public health systems. The programme will be piloted by local and regional public authorities in cooperation with cultural institutions and evaluated for its health effects, organisational set-up and economic benefits.

The partners who will be preparing and piloting the program, include three local public authorities (Saldus/LV, Cēsis/LV, Odense/DK) and three regional public authorities (West Pomerania/PL, Bremen/DE, and Norrbotten/SE), each of which cooperates with an institution in the field of culture and cultural education (Media Dizajn/PL, Bremer Volkshochschule/DE, Sunderby Folk High School/SE). This way, culture and health departments as well as NGOs take part in the project.

The challenges the project aims to solve are the underdeveloped cooperation between the culture and health sector, lack of knowledge on how to set up, organise and evaluate a programme and a lack of long-term financing.

We look forward to working together with the partners to establish an online practitioner’s guide that enables public authorities’ staff to adapt and implement the Arts on Prescription programme, as well as developing information material to raise awareness and garner stakeholder support for Arts on Prescription. We believe that this project has the potential to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of local communities and we are excited to work with our partners to make it a success.” – says Søren Windell, deputy mayor of The Department of Culture, Sport and Urban Development

Both Cēsis Municipality and Odense Municipality have previous experience with Arts on Prescription. Cēsis Municipality recently initiated a project on “Museums on Prescription”.

Odense Municipality is part of Cultural Region Funen, an association of nine municipalities on the island of Funen working with Arts on Prescription in the framework of a cultural agreement with the Danish Ministry of Culture in 2022-2023.

“Cultural Region Funen has already piloted a number of Arts on Prescription programs within the region, targeting citizens struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or isolation. Evaluations shows that this approach is beneficial in helping people. They meet each other, they participate actively – and they see culture from a new perspective – and that is what helps them. We are glad to share our experiences in this field and help develop more projects. We hope and look forward within this collaboration to not only share our experiences but also gain new insights and perspectives enabling us to further improve our model. This will in turn help us to continue to develop and improve our programs to better serve the community.” – says Anne Møllegaard, chairman of Cultural Region Funen.

The piloting partners are supported in the development of the model programme and in the evaluation of its piloting by three universities: The Danish National Institute of Public Health (University of Southern Denmark), Turku University of Applied Sciences, and the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. Each of these universities brings in complementary expertise in the evaluation of health effects, organisational setup, and the economic cost/benefits.

A particularly important role in the partnership will be played by the Secretariat of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Health and Social Well-being. As coordinator of PA Health of the EUSBSR and partner of the project “The Art of Staying Healthy” the NDPHS Secretariat is the ideal partner for promoting the results of the project more broadly in the EU. The NDPHS has direct access to senior officials of the national ministries of health and can help to raise awareness and put the topic on the political agenda.

Visit project page.

Other News
MentalHealthMatters partners tackle challenges and gaps related to mental health at work
Since the beginning of the MentalHealthMatters project in August, the partners in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Norway have been working with policymakers, employers, employees, researchers and other stakeholders to identify the national gaps in data and policy related to workplace psychosocial risks. Read what happened when the partners got together to discover the joint gaps and challenges.
28 September, 2023
The NDPHS Expert Group on HIV, Tuberculosis & Associated Infections welcomes a new International Technical Advisor
The NDPHS family is pleased to welcome Ms Marja Suomela from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare as the new International Technical Advisor (ITA) of the HIV, TB & AI Expert Group. Read our express interview with Ms Suomela about her thoughts on the topic and what the Expert Group has on its agenda for the months and years to come.
12 September, 2023
International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day
On September 9th, International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day is observed. People all around the world raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders which can turn into a lifelong disability. 
8 September, 2023
PA Health and PA Education workshop at the EUSBSR Annual Forum 2023
The kick-off event for the joint PA Health (NDPHS Secretariat) and PA Education (Norden Association) project – “Economy of Wellbeing of People” will be held on October 4 in Riga. Register by September 10 and join us.
7 September, 2023
The MentalHealthMatters project’s kick-off
After receiving the positive news about funding in the Spring of 2023, the NDPHS Secretariat, our Expert Group on Occupational Safety and Health and project partners from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway and Poland have been actively plotting the project’s implementation and identifying national priorities and approaches. We now move from plans to action.
21 August, 2023
Lessons learned from the tested Arts on Prescription concept in Denmark
With the goal to improve their mental and social well-being and quality of life, 10 participants met voluntarily over a period of 8 weeks and took part in different cultural activities. A short film gives valuable insights into experiences of participants, coordinators and facilitators of the programme that has been evaluated in 2023. Read six most important conclusions of the evaluation.
17 August, 2023
World Hepatitis Day 2023
You’ve only got one life, and you’ve only got one liver. Hepatitis can devastate both. Viral hepatitis still kills over a million people every year and there’s a huge number of undiagnosed and untreated people living with hepatitis. This must change. Don’t miss the target: stopping a hepatitis C epidemic requires quick action - both prevention and improving testing and access to treatment.
31 July, 2023
Communication from the European Commission: A comprehensive approach to mental health
Today’s challenges on mental health can affect everybody and require concerted actions and the full commitment of all actors involved. Mental health is an integral part of people’s health. This Communication is the beginning of a new strategic approach to mental health, cross-sectoral in nature, going beyond health policy.
12 June, 2023
All News >