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Art on prescription - new scheme in Norfolk tackles ill health with creativity

​An NHS Trust in Norfolk has teamed up with a local art organisation to offer a unique approach to tackling mental health issues.

Norfolk Wellbeing Service, part of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, has started prescribing art workshops in a bid to improve the wellbeing and confidence of some women.

The service has joined forces with Norwich based organisation Sweet Arts to offer art workshops as part of a pilot study using art as a form of treatment for women experiencing mild to moderate levels of anxiety and depression.

Helen Simpson, enhanced psychological therapist, said: “Taking part in creative groups has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety and is already available in a number of places around the country. We will be measuring outcomes in this pilot study and hope to show its benefits and secure longer term funding for the scheme.”

The Sweet Arts organisation provides a safe environment for emotionally vulnerable women in which they can be creative and socialise with likeminded people. Sweet Arts provide a range of opportunities and the ‘art on prescription’ initiative is a new addition for women with or without art experience, offering a place where participants can take time for themselves.

Comments from people who have taken part in the groups include:

  • “When you have colour in front of you it’s amazing! It’s not just dark and grey
    in front of you. It makes you feel better.”
  • “I am doing something for me. I never have before. It makes me feel better”.
  • “Each session has provided a supportive and safe environment within which I
    have been able to try and rebuild my confidence whilst learning new skills.”


The workshops will run for 8 weeks on Friday mornings at the 4Women Centre in Norwich. Works from this new initiative will be exhibited in 2013.

Men and women aged 16 or over who do not already receive mental health care from the Trust can self-refer to Norfolk Wellbeing Service by calling 0300 123 1503. Norfolk Wellbeing Service provides a wide range of treatment options for people with common mental health problems. The art on prescription scheme will be recommended to women who clinical staff feel will benefit from the group.

For further information about Sweet Arts projects please email or call 07580142098.