On November 30th, 2023, Mississauga Arts Council (MAC) presented a new Proposal for a Pilot ArtsCare Social Prescription Program in Mississauga, written by art psychotherapist, Haley Toll, to the Hon. Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. This pilot program is the next step to furthering MAC’s ArtsCare initiatives to make creative experiences and activities available to residents as a non-pharmacological solution to improving mental health.
The comprehensive model, titled ArtsCare, provides a Spectrum of Care that meets the diverse modern challenges of people experiencing isolation, mental health challenges, and various forms of distress in Mississauga, with a social prescription program for creative therapies that has the potential to expand across Ontario. The Proposal for a Pilot ArtsCare Social Prescription Program is available to read on artscare.ca in a summary format located here and in full-length format located here.
“If you knew of a low-cost, proven effective therapy for a multitude of mental health obstacles, a solution without side effects that is guaranteed to make participants feel better – wouldn’t you seek to make it widely accessible?” says Mike Douglas, Executive Director, MAC, “The ArtsCare Program will help people feel better while delivering health care savings.”
“In a study based on a 2016 Statistics Canada General Social Survey, the Canada Council for the Arts found that 52% of Canadians who participated in 15 arts, culture and heritage activities were more likely to report very good or excellent mental health than non-attendees and participants. This study looked at activities such as live music, art galleries, reading books, art and culture festivals, theatre and comedy shows,” mentions Hon. Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addictions at MAC’s Arts for Mental Health Conference in October 2021.
The two-year pilot project, grounded in arts in health models and aligned with the Ontario Government’s Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System (2022), seeks to provide patient and community access to multi-tiered supportive arts-based programs within a spectrum of care.
The goal is to enhance individual and community health and well-being, fostering resilient, sustainable, creative community support and health services for diverse populations. ArtsCare aims to reduce public health costs through prevention, long-term impact, implementing innovative services, improving access to care, and focusing on patient’s natural strengths. To learn more about ArtsCare and how to get involved, visit artscare.ca.
Quotes from the Arts for Mental Health Conference, presented by MAC on October 6, 2021:
“A non-pharmacological solution is needed for the looming unprecedented demands for an overburdened mental health care sector,” states Dr. Colin Saldanha, Past Chair, of Trillium Health Partners Foundation.
“In Mississauga, a strained public health system has left many children, youth, and adults dealing with mental health crises without adequate support, particularly for those experiencing long-term illness,” states Haley Toll, art psychotherapist and former President Canadian Art Therapy Association, “Recognizing the need for innovative solutions, the Mississauga Arts Council (MAC) and Mass Culture initiated a collaborative project to find research (through a datathon) and connect leading professionals (with focus groups and a conference) in the field of arts in health to design an arts prescription model, called ArtsCare.”
Other quotes & statistics:
“Paintings, poems, novels and music help multiply and refine the models we use to perceive and construct reality. By attending to great perceivers (artists)… we can more subtly understand what is going on around us and be better at expressing what we see and feel” – David Brooks, “Art Can Make Us All Better People”, New York Times, February 3, 2024
“There has never been a time when new mental health services were needed more,” Provincial Mental Health Support Report (Ontario), February 22, 2021
“…, arts interventions are often low-risk, highly cost-effective, integrated and holistic treatment options for complex health challenges to which there are no current solutions.” – World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, September 2019
“After engaging with the arts 79% of people in deprived communities in London ate more healthy, 77% engaged in more physical activity and 82% enjoyed greater well-being…”- statistics from Creative Health: The Arts For Health and Wellbeing, July 2017
Pilot ArtsCare Social Prescription Program Proposal
Mississauga Arts Council is a champion of ArtsCare Programming in Mississauga. Their ArtsCare initiatives include developing an ArtsCare Pilot Program for Mississauga, ArtsCare MicroGrants that employ professional artists to facilitate programs to benefit those suffering from mental health conditions, the Arts for Mental Health Award, and the Arts for Mental Health Conference (2021). Learn more: artscare.ca