Arts for the Blues began as a collaborative research project between artists, therapists, universities, NHS trusts and cultural institutions, based at Edge Hill University and the University of Salford. The team have developed a new evidence-based creative psychological therapy for depression in response to research and findings which point to a need for a helpful and alternative model of treatment for depression in the UK. Arts for the Blues was originally designed to help tackle depression in adults in deprived areas of North West England and began in a primary mental health care setting in Manchester. Since then, the project has grown to deliver pilot projects in Liverpool, Manchester and surrounding areas. It has also been adapted for use with children, NHS clinical staff, carers, and mothers and babies.

Our purpose

We are continuing to develop further research to explore how creative psychological therapies, and Arts for the Blues, can improve wellbeing. We are committed to working collaboratively with individuals and organisations to enhance current delivery of place-based arts initiatives.

We work closely with arts organisations, health and social care organisations, lived experience experts, frontline staff and local leads to encourage shared learning across sectors and regions.

How did the model develop?

How is this model different?

Arts for the Blues is an evidence based creative psychological therapy that offers a model for the safe uses of the arts in healthcare, community, and artistic practice. The model is extensively used across these sectors.

It is flexible and versatile so that it may be adapted for use across different populations and for different purposes.

“The activities really brought perspective on feelings and emotions”

Arts for the Blues participant

Who it’s for


Work with adults began with developing the model for depression and anxiety, it then expanded to address mental health and wellbeing, and personal development.

Children & Young People

The Arts for the Blues has worked with children at risk of developing mental issues, and children with mental health concerns.


The model has been implemented with parents, caregivers of children with autism and parents and babies.

NHS staff

Arts for the Blues was developed to work with the wellbeing of NHS frontline staff during Covid-19 and has expanded to address doctors in training and mental health practitioners in the NHS.

Our team

Professor Vicky Karkou

Director for Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University and Creative Arts Psychotherapist

Dr Joanna Omylinska-Thurston

Counseling Psychologist at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS FT, and Lecturer at University of Salford

Professor Scott Thurston

Poet, and Professor at University of Salford

Emma Perris
 Research Assistant for Arts for the Blues, Lecturer at Edge Hill University and Dance Movement Psychotherapist.

Dr Shaun Liverpool

Chartered Psychologist and Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Rebecca Clark

Research Assistant for Arts for the Blues

Dr Tasneem Patel

Lecturer in Mental Health at Edge Hill University

Our partner organisations

UKRI - Arts and Humanities Research Council
National Centre for Creative Health (NCCH)
Jameel Arts and Health Lab
University of Hull
Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust
Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Greater Manchester Mental Health (GMMH) NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool John Moores University
Liverpool Lighthouse
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
1Point Bolton
Six Degrees Social Enterprise - Supporting your mental health
Innovation Agency - Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast
Liverpool Health Partners (LHP) - Collaborate • Discover • Improve

Partner with us >

If you would like to work with the Arts for the Blues team on a new project or would like to implement the Arts for the Blues therapy model into your organisation, we would love to hear from you.