Charity launches programme to bring artist-led workshops to every NHS Mental Health Trust in England

A charity has launched a programme to bring artist-led workshops to every NHS Mental Health Trust in England.

Hospital Rooms announced its three-year Digital Art School programme last month, which will see the charity provide artist-led digital workshops and free art materials to every NHS inpatient mental health site in England. 

All 58 NHS mental health trusts in England registered to participate in the scheme, which aims to reach 180,000 inpatients diagnosed with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) each year.

Co-founder Niamh White said: “We are embarking on an extraordinary journey with the launch of the national Digital Art School programme. 

“This ambitious three-year programme embodies our commitment to make art an integral and accessible part of mental health care. 

“Digital Art School represents a significant step towards democratising access to art and creativity for individuals facing mental health challenges.”

The programme will provide free, monthly artist-led workshops, available to watch live or on-demand, accompanied by high quality art resources for NHS staff to facilitate sessions for service users in mental health units. 

Participants will also have access to a calendar of interactive creative events throughout the year, and each inpatient site will receive a bespoke materials box designed by artist José Parlá.

The workshops will be led by acclaimed artists such as Abbas Zahedi, Dolly Sen and Giles Deacon, and will cover a diverse range of topics from expressive painting, to collage and drawing. 

Zahedi said: “We don’t really know what the future of art education looks like going forward, especially in terms of accessibility, so I think it is important that practitioners remain committed to working towards an inclusive educational experience on all fronts. 

“I think what Hospital Rooms has done can really help to broaden our understanding of pedagogy in terms of navigating complex systems and realities.” 

Featured image credit: Hospital Rooms

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