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mental health article

Women taking part in Creative Directions arts activity at The Point led by darts Doncaster

darts is committed to providing creative programmes that give people the chance to express themselves, develop new friendships, learn new skills and ignite new passions. We believe that art can be incredibly useful in building emotional resilience and good mental health.

We chair Doncaster’s Arts & Health Board and collaborate with a range of health and cultural partners to develop arts on prescription models. Our ambition is to scale up successful models in order to respond to the health needs of the Doncaster population.

Women taking part in art activity at Creative Directions led by darts Doncaster

Creative Directions

Creative Directions is a weekly opportunity for adults with experience of mental health issues to develop and maintain good mental health, make connections with others and build their confidence long term.

Regular positive activity, support and signposting will respond to individual need. Beneficiaries who are isolated and lonely, lacking in confidence, with low emotional resilience will engage in activities that, over time, enable them to develop practical, social and personal skills, empowering them to make positive changes in their life.

A regular, absorbing and appropriately challenging offer, in a safe, welcoming building, with understanding staff builds trust, increases confidence and develops the ability to try new things. The activity e.g. making a film or recording a track, engages participants and provides focus.

Participants, who may initially be very negative, unmotivated or non-verbal, begin to see what they can achieve. Feelings of self-worth increase and – through gentle challenge – participants push themselves further and see themselves differently; increasing independence. Skills and strategies will be sustainable, enabling participants to maintain emotional wellbeing long term.  

The Creative Directions group at The Point meets on Wednesdays, with the day split into two halves: the morning session (10am – 12pm) is self-facilitated, meaning people come along and make use of our space and free art materials in whatever way they want. The afternoon session (1:30pm – 3:30pm) is artist-led; darts artists lead the group in creative activities. Creative Directions is very flexible, so people can turn up whenever and pop in or out as they please.

Interested in attending? See our FAQ guide on Creative Directions for more information.

A participant from our Creative Directions in Edlington group

Creative Directions in the Community

Creative Directions in the Community offers creative, music-making opportunities for residents with and without lived experience of mental ill health/social isolation. Professional musicians collaborate with participants to devise new songs and compositions that celebrate and journey through the past, present and future of Doncaster’s communities. Creative Directions offers weekly opportunities to experiment with vocal and instrumentation techniques. Through sustained engagement we improve people’s wellbeing and support individuals to develop the strategies needed to maintain good mental health.

Musicians get to know individuals and design activity in response to ideas, interests and abilities. Changes start small: we will build participant trust and confidence e.g. to enter the building, make eye contact or initiate conversation. Activity is a tangible framework to work within, enabling independent thought. Ideas are responded to positively, with no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ so participants cannot fail. Participants’ confidence increases. Through positive reinforcement, contributions emerge. There’s no judgement; participants’ input is valid and others are interested. The group begins to bond and relax – participants feel less a ‘medical condition’, more an individual; enabling participants to build social connections, feeling less isolated.

darts runs two Creative Directions music groups in Edlington and Askern in partnership with Doncaster Public Health.

Sessions are free and people are encouraged to just turn up and have a go.

Every Tuesday at the Edlington Community Organisation at Yorkshire Community Centre, New Edlington, DN12 1AB

Every Thursday at Alexander House, High St, Askern, Doncaster, DN6 0AB

For more information, click here, or contact Amy on 01302 558041 or

A man and a woman laugh as they take part in creative activities led by darts Doncaster

We Create: Mexborough

We Create: Mexborough is a pilot project testing positive impact on health outcomes through arts and culture on prescription in one Doncaster community. Funded by Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the activity is based on scaling up existing successful models delivered by local arts and culture providers: darts, Heritage Doncaster and Cast.

The activity is for adults aged 18+ with a wide spectrum of diagnosed and undiagnosed mild, moderate and severe mental health issues. Those who are feeling socially isolated. 

Regular, positive, creative activity focuses on: 

  • Preventing mental health crisis 
  • Building strategies to build and maintain good mental health and wellbeing 
  • Increasing social connectedness and reducing loneliness 
  • Reducing non-elective admissions and emergency admissions related to mental health crisis 

We know that mental illness has a direct impact on confidence and self-worth. Regular, high quality arts and cultural activity will be delivered over two years (from March 2020) in Mexborough, co-designed with local GPs, health partners and residents. Delivery partners will deliver blocks of regular, weekly activity for people to engage in. Blocks may last for 6-10 weeks or may be much longer e.g. 6 months in the build up to a performance. The activity builds on successful models and will include a range of visual arts, theatre skills, music, history and performance.

We are working with an external evaluator to build a robust body of evidence to inform future commissioning and embed the model. This pilot will build the case for potential mainstream funding beyond CCG investment. This project will allow us to bring together a range of strong models of good practice in order to test and learn on a larger scale to develop a cohesive and proven approach that commissioners can embed in prevention and recovery pathways long term.

Every Wednesday from 18th March 2020, 10.30am — 12.30pm at Mexborough Library, John Street, S64 9HS
If you have any questions you can talk to Amy on 01302 558041 or

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