Over the past 24 months, MARCH has worked with researchers, community organisations, policy groups, mental health charities and people with lived experience across the UK to help transform our understanding of the role of social, cultural and community assets in mental health.
Here’s a closer look at our top 10 achievements since our inception:
The MARCH network has far exceeded its anticipated reach. Membership has grown to over 1,600 members, with over 3,200 people now following us on Twitter. Our website has received over 150,000 visits over the past year.
MARCH has shared 22 newsletters involving 108 spotlights on practice, over 180 policy updates, over 90 funding opportunities, and over 90 new research papers. Over 706 members have taken part in our online Basecamp discussion forum and we have run 12 Special Interest Groups involving 859 members.
We have worked with over 300 members of the network to co-produce a new Research Agenda for the field, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open, that has identified the most pressing research gaps in the field.
Guided by the agenda, we have distributed £280,000 in Plus Funds, funding 8 Sandpit events that were attended by over 150 people and 7 new research grants that are currently underway.
We have worked with the MARCH Disciplinary Expert Group to identify over 600 “mechanisms of action” that link leisure engagement to mental and physical health. The mechanisms have been synthesised these into a new framework using the lens of complexity science due to be published shortly in The Lancet Psychiatry.
We have published an evidence synthesis report with the World Health Organisation bringing together the findings from over 3,000 studies on arts and health that was named the Global Aesthetic Achievement of 2019. We have also produced follow-on policy briefings for WHO and the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport and spoken about our work to the UN, UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments), OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) and several All Party Parliamentary Groups.
We have been working to map the barriers and motivators to social, cultural and community engagement and have run focus groups and interviews with network members including individuals with lived experience of mental illness, GPs involved in social prescribing, and community organisations. We’ve also analysed data from national datasets and published our findings in six scientific papers.
We have worked closely with the BBC’s annual ‘Get Creative’ Festival, supporting the communication of research to the public. As part of this, we ran two major BBC Citizen Science experiments involving over 98,000 people, with the data now publicly available for analysis.
We have worked to support the national roll-out of social prescribing. We have hosted a sold-out policy conference ‘Arts on Prescription’, collaborated with NHS England to undertake analyses of NHS data from London looking at the reach and impact of the roll-out, written a policy briefing on social prescribing for DCMS, and presented at a number of social prescribing conferences and policy days.
Through our ECR steering group, we have worked with 65 ECRs to deliver blogs, social media activity, and podcasts. We have run two week-long intensive ECR training events on arts and health research in the UK and US for over 80 ECRs, led two day-long research blitz events for community organisations, and supported the Arts Health Early Career Research Network (a network of over 1100 ECRs)
A Selection of key publications
How leisure activities affect health: a narrative review and multi-level theoretical framework of mechanisms of action
Supplementary index: how leisure activities affect health
Predictors of engaging in voluntary work during the Covid-19 pandemic: analyses of data from 31,890 adults in the UK
Time-use and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: a panel analysis of 55,204 adults followed across 11 weeks of lockdown in the UK
Predictors and impact of arts engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic: analyses of data from 19,384 adults in the COVID-19 Social Study
Present in Body or Just in Mind: Differences in Social Presence and Emotion Regulation in Live vs. Virtual Singing Experiences
How do artistic creative activities regulate our emotions? Validation of the Emotion Regulation Strategies for Artistic Creative Activities Scale (ERS-ACA)
Arts and health: creative solutions to complex challenges
Arts, Health & Wellbeing Scoping Review summary
Differential participation in community cultural activities amongst those with poor mental health: Analyses of the UK Taking Part Survey
Synergy between sectors: supporting health through the arts
Social, cultural and community engagement and mental health: a cross-disciplinary, co-produced research agenda
What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review
Evidence summary for policy: The role of arts in improving health and wellbeing
What are the barriers to, and enablers of, working with people with lived experience of mental illness amongst the CVS