A “culture on prescription” programme for people on sick leave
Cultural Vitamins (Kulturvitaminer) is a programme developed by the Health and Culture Administration and anchored in the Centre for Mental Health in the municipality of Aalborg. Local cultural institutions/actors participated in delivering the activities and are: Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Aalborg Libraries, Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, Aalborg City Archives, Den Rytmiske and Aalborg Theatre. Furthermore, it contains a guided tour with a nature guide and instruction in the use of music as a therapeutic intervention. The project runs over ten weeks with two to three weekly sessions lasting between two to three hours.
Results from a report on the programme show that participants have experienced increased energy levels, increased self-esteem, more enjoyment of life, improved social skills and relationships, less panic motivation, better sense of own needs, increased self-care and a feeling of being closer to the labour market.
The Guardian: www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/31/upside-denmark-culture-mental-health-singing-theatre
World Economic Forum: www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/mental-health-depression-denmark-kulturvitaminer/
During the course, we look for different cultural experiences that can relieve symptoms. The course takes place over 9 weeks with 3 weekly sessions. Participants will be part of a group of 16 who will meet for 2 hours each time.
They will meet competent, well-prepared and committed cultural guides who will introduce them to cultural experiences. The programme requires no special prerequisites. It can help take the focus off illness, and instead create new self-images of people with skills who can and want to do something.
Along the way participants will be introduced to:
- how listening to music can help you achieve mental peace and a better night’s sleep.
- how guided shared reading can help you have good conversations about the lyrics and put your illness a bit at bay.
- how singing helps you breathe better and feel more communal.
A cultural coordinator is employed to lead the project and is responsible for coordinating the activities and communication with cultural institutions and participants. The cultural coordinator participates in the activities as much as possible and meets with the participants to bring the group together, before the activity starts.
Recruitment of citizens is done through the Job Centre in Aalborg, where caseworkers introduce the programme to potential citizens. It is made clear that a particular cultural understanding or background is not necessary to participate. This means that anyone, regardless of background knowledge, can participate in the programme.
Well, I have a completely different everyday life… and I think that my family can also feel it. And my husband says, “You’re completely different, you’re really happy again.” “Yes, I am.” Also my children can feel it. I can easily feel that they can. They say, “You’re so happy, Mom, did you sing today too?”