Arts and culture for health and wellbeing

Photo: Teijo / Pirkanmaa 2016. PiiPoo – accessible centre for art and culture.

According to robust research data arts can have diverse positive impacts on physical health, mental wellbeing as well as perceived well-being, quality of life and happiness.

Research has shown that arts and art activities can:

  • improve the results of medical treatment and alleviate physical and psychological symptoms
  • reduce the need and use of anxiolytic medication, painkillers and sleeping pills
  • help alleviate loneliness and social isolation
  • prevent and reduce negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression and sadness; and
  • help people cope with mental health issues.

In addition, each person has the right to take part in arts and culture, develop themselves and their community through arts and culture and express themselves freely. These cultural rights are stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN (1948), several human rights agreements that are binding to Finland and the Constitution of Finland.

Arts and culture for health and wellbeing: background in Finland

The impact of art and culture on wellbeing is increasingly recognised as part of promoting health, well-being and wholesome living. Research and development operations related to the impact of art and culture on wellbeing and the production of arts-based well-being services have substantially increased over the past years. Launched in 2010, the national  Art and Culture for Well-being action programme (2010–2014) sparked extensive development operations across administrative borders in Finland.

The aim of the programme was to promote health and well-being through culture and to strengthen social inclusion at the individual, communal and societal level.  Earmarking an allowance for the establishment of a coordination centre for the well-being impacts of art was considered an important proposal for further action in the final report of the programme. Thus, Taikusydän was lauched in 2015. The administrative-level programme was unique on a global scale and aimed to promote the impacts of art and culture that support wellbeing.

Since the action programme ended 2014, a lot has happened in Finland in the field of arts & health.

Arts, health & wellbeing in Finland - find out more!

Taikusydän – Arts & Health Coordination Centre in Finland

Taikusydän is a multisectoral coordination centre and national network for activities and research among the field of arts, culture and wellbeing in Finland. The objective of Taikusydän is to make arts and culture a permanent part of wellbeing services in Finland. Find out more about Taikusydän.

From grass-roots activities to national policies – the state of arts and health in Finland (Open access article in Arts & Health, 2020)

The recognition of the connection between arts, health and well-being has been growing during the recent two decades in Finland. The arts and health field has evolved from grass-roots activities to more systematic approaches of integrating arts and culture as part of social welfare and healthcare services and health promotion.

Read the article.

ArtsEqual (2015-2021)

The ArtsEqual research initiative, coordinated by the University of the Arts Helsinki, examined the arts as public service, with equality as the starting point, and explores how the arts can meet the social challenges of the 2020s. The intitiative was financed by the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council. Find out more about ArtsEqual.

Recommendation for improving the availability and accessibility of arts and culture in social welfare and healthcare (2018)

In December 2018 as a part of the Finnish Government key project (more information below) the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Ministry of Education and Culture published recommendation for improving the availability and accessibility of arts and culture in social welfare and healthcare.

In the recommendation, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Annika Saarikko and Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport Sampo Terho outline the intended measures that aim at improving the availability and accessibility of arts and culture in social welfare and healthcare and health promotion in accordance with the objectives of the Government Programme.

Find out more about the recommendation.

Government key project: Access to Arts and Culture (2016–2018)

One of the Finnish governments’ (2015) key projects (2016–2018) in education and culture was to facilitate access to arts and culture in cooperation with the social welfare and healthcare sector in order to support the welfare impacts of the arts.

The key project was carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Ministry of Education and Culture. The application and funding process of the development projects was the responsibility of the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, which operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The whole budget of the project was 2 million €.

Find out more about the key project.

Last update 6.5.2022.