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Making It Better

A web toolkit for planning children & young people's arts mental health projects

Over the last 30 years, there has been growing recognition for the impact arts and cultural projects can have on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people (if you’re wondering WHY this work is important, see below). Yet there is often a skills and experience gap between artists’ and organisations’ confidence in the impacts of their work and their ability to evidence this effectively to funders and partners.

This Toolkit has been created to support all those planning and delivering creative projects for children and young people with mental health and wellbeing outcomes by addressing that gap. By focusing on data, where it can be sourced, how you collect and use it, the Toolkit is designed to provide a wealth of insight that can be adapted to the needs and focus of many creative projects, especially those in Arun.

The toolkit focuses on three ways data can help you to plan projects that are robust, successful and fundable:


Why use creative projects to support mental health?

[E]ngaging with the arts has a significant part to play in improving physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Wide-ranging evidence, including the 2020 Good Childhood Report and NHS data, shows that children and young people’s experiences of poor mental health issues are on the rise.

The wellbeing impacts on children and young people as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have both accelerated and highlighted this issue. New reports by the Prince’s Trust and the Children’s Society highlight the toll on young people’s mental health, and the ways that the most vulnerable have been affected.

Many organisations working in the youth, voluntary and creative sectors are being asked by partners and funders to respond to this need, or to show how their existing work is contributing to helping the crisis.

In this Toolkit, we have collated the growing body of evidence, including the increasing use of social prescribing by the NHS, that recognises the valuable and unique impact that creative projects can provide as a treatment for this epidemic.

Resources and case studies

Read more about a number of Artswork's project which have had a measurable impact on the mental health and wellbeing

The Making It Better toolkit has been produced by Artswork through the Arun Inspires programme, a 3-year cultural development programme for children, young people and the organisations supporting them in District of Arun. As a result, place-based data is focused to Arun. However many of the resources collected here are national or can be focused to other areas.

We hope you find the Toolkit useful. This is a living resource so if you have suggestions about material that should be added or content that could be improved, we would like to hear your ideas. Please email us on

Data used across this toolkit was collected in March 2021, and all data is correct at the time of this site being created. Artswork have worked to ensure all resources gathered here are relevant and appropriate, but we cannot be held responsible for the content of external sites. If you have questions about any of this content, or encounter any broken links, please contact

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