Best Practice

Art and mental health: Catharsis or distraction?

Schools are on the front-line of the mental health crisis facing our young people. Across three articles, Dr Stephanie Thornton looks at what the research evidence says about the power of music, art and sport to support teenagers...


September 2022 saw the most extraordinary outpourings of grief, public and personal, across the UK and many other parts of the world, triggered by the death of a beloved Queen.

Media commentary repeatedly underlined that this death marks the end of an era – coming on top of all the other things that mark the end of old certainties (the pandemic, the war and Russia’s nuclear threats, the vivid presence of climate change, the economic crisis).

Is the loss of the Queen the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Will it exacerbate already high levels (Ford et al, 2021; Commission on Young Lives, 2022) of mental health problems in the young (and everyone else), or will this huge expression of grief prove to have been cathartic, a healing release of all the stressed emotions we have tried to manage and control in recent years?

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