Cultural Activities Improve Mental Health

Sweden has recently launched a pilot project to help patients suffering from chronic depression; stress; anxiety; or back, shoulder and neck pain by prescribing cultural activities. Karin Berg, project manager at Capio clinic in Helsingborg, which hosts the trials, explains.

What kinds of cultural activities do you suggest?

“Visiting a museum, getting a tour around a theater, singing in a choir, forming a reading group in a library, visiting an art center where patients can participate in ceramics or painting or making music.”

How do these activities help?

“At our first meeting, patients were feeling tense and nervous, but at the end they were completely different. They seemed relaxed and positive, and we had quite a few laughs. That is such a difference. Some are so tired of sitting alone at home and doing nothing, it’s as if they can’t face it anymore. They don’t have any motivation.”

Why not just let them hang out together then?

“If you’re a carpenter with chronic back pain, you may never be a carpenter again, and you may feel terribly sad the whole day. But if you get new influences, you may become open-minded so it becomes easier to see yourself more objectively and to think about other opportunities in life. Cultural activities are known to stimulate the brain and improve mental health. Such stimulation from outside can stop the process of only looking at all the negative things in your life. It’s not an alternative to traditional therapy, but an addition.”

Does this add costs to the health-care system?

“No, this program will save money.”


“Oh yes, definitely. These patients are not cheap. They cost society loads of money. They see the doctor all the time. Some in our group are not trusted to have medicine at home, so they go out every day to get their medication, which puts quite some pressure on medical staff. But if you go out and about, you can get the attention you need elsewhere, relieving medical personnel somewhat. If we can get some of these patients out in society and even back to work, that’s a big savings.”

By Marco Visscher, Ode Magazine


Elisa F.
Elisa F4 years ago

Sounds Great! Thanks for sharing.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Talya Honor
Talya H5 years ago

I agree! No one should ever stop trying to learn new things and experience new things!

Emma S.
Emma S6 years ago

The arts are fab!

Rie Rie T.
Ria T7 years ago

I just notice how excited, happy, and inspired I get going to museums. Art in all its forms creates awe and gratitude for me.
What a blessing!

Walter G.
Walter G7 years ago

As a chronic back pain sufferer, I appreciate the suggested activities. The idea is to re-establish communication between people, and between people and themselves. it will work, I hope it spreads!

Kathy K.
Kathy K7 years ago

I'm glad to see this innovative kind of program. I wish we had more of it in the US

Patricia Bad Wound

u know some antidepressants work along with therapy and art activiites or music...but the only way they are going to work is if u want them to, if u don't have a open mind then nothing is going to work. people may take offense to some comments but in the end everyone has their own thoughts whether they be right or wrong..we as a people just have to say that is their opinion and if that is how this or that makes them feel so be it. just be yourself and love yourself and find out what works for you and you only. god bless to all

Liz Thompson
Elisabeth T7 years ago

Good article, thank you

Tanya G.
Tanya G7 years ago

So much better than listening to rock music & heavy metal music alright!