Culture And Health: Member States gather in Brussels

February 20, 2024, 3:03 pm

More than 85 million citizens in the EU were affected by mental health problems even before the pandemic. In particular the young, those with precarious employment, lower incomes or less education are most in need. There is a growing body of evidence that culture contributes to our physical, mental and social health and well-being, and this is where equal access to health and access to culture and cultural rights intersect.

EU citizens have urged action on mental health during the ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’. Thus, the inclusion of “Culture and health” in The Council Work Plan for Culture 2023-2026 signifies a collaborative effort among EU Member States to work on this topic through the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). This initiative will convene representatives from Cultural and Health ministries to discuss recommendations for the intersection of culture and health through a series of meetings and possible study visits in 2024.

The first OMC meeting on Culture and Health, scheduled for 27-28 February, 2024, in Brussels, aims to facilitate knowledge exchange among EU Member States. Representatives will explore collaboration opportunities between cultural and health sectors, and suggest recommendations. The presence of the World Health Organization, the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety will present recent EC communications and EU Council Conclusions on the comprehensive approach to mental health, making several references to culture.

Culture Action Europe is also invited to make a presentation in the OMC meeting. Kornelia Kiss will present the results of the EU preparatory Action ‘CultureForHealth’, implemented by a consortium consisting of Culture Action Europe, Cluj Cultural Centre, The Northern Dimension Partnership of Culture, Central Denmark Region, Trans Europe Halles and Društvo Asociacija. The presentation will build on the recommendations from the “CultureForHealth Report. Culture’s contribution to health and well-being. A report on evidence and policy recommendations for Europe”. The report, synthesising evidence from 310 scientific studies and incorporating findings from the WHO 2019 report based on 3000 studies, stands as the most comprehensive and current review of how culture and the arts contribute to health and well-being, offering policy recommendations for EU action.

Further resources, such as “The Culture for Health and Well-being Compendium  – A Guide for Practitioners” are available here.  For practitioners it is also good to get inspired from the CultureForHealth mapping directory of 800+ projects and programmes on culture, well-being and health, which is  searchable by initiative type, cultural field, target group, country or by free text.

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