The World Health Organization called for mental health to be treated as everyone’s responsibility. It does not only affect the lives of people living with mental health problems, and their carers, but also the productivity of society. In many countries, mental illness is the leading cause of disability, responsible for 30-40% of chronic sick leave and costing some 3% of GDP. More common than diabetes, cancer or heart disease, mental illnesses fill up to 21% of all hospital beds at any given time.
The need for effective approaches to treating people with severe mental illness is often a matter of life or death. 1 in 10 people diagnosed with schizophrenia and 1 in 5 with bipolar illness will end in suicide. People suffering from mental illness and especially those who live in mental health structures are in the forefront of socially disadvantaged groups, suffering more over from social stigmatization and marginalization. These people have also been suffering from societal injustices.
Although art’s healing effect on mental health is being acknowledged more and more, it is not an optional therapeutic approach for most of mental health structures in many European Countries. Moreover, even though, there is an obvious need of more contemporary approaches hich will possibly reduce the use of medicines, most of the structures are being stuck to old protocols avoiding trying alternative methodological approaches and routines, as a result of ignorance or being afraid to try something new. The potential and benefits of combining therapeutic art with restorative justice are still not translated into educational material and programs leaving many adult learners and professionals in the field unaware.
Mental Health Matters through Restorative Art (MHM) aims to bring together a cross-sector, strategic partnership of organisations to support innovation in the adult education field by creating, piloting and disseminating educational material and tools tailored to the needs and realities of mental health professionals, restorative justice practitioners and artists in the participating countries (the UK, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Hungary) and across Europe. MHM will also design and accredit e-courses that will enhance the skills and knowledge of adult learners, supporting in this way the setting up of, and access to upskilling pathways.