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11th July 2024 Latest News

World-first study explores the transformative power to heal

Art Therapy

A world-first study has shown what many of us have always known: art has a transformative power to heal.

Military and Emergency Service Health Australia’s (MESHA) Dr Henry Bowen has led a groundbreaking study demonstrating a substantial social impact of culturally informed art therapy for military and emergency service personnel.

A game-changer for mental health support for our service members struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Dr Bowen analysed the Social Return on Investment (SROI) to help figure out the social benefits of art therapy.

“Unfortunately, as health funding becomes more difficult to secure, there is a need to justify the impact of wellbeing programs to funding bodies,” Dr Bowen said.

Dr Bowen’s groundbreaking study highlights the profound impact of art therapy for service members.

“My research has shown that not only can art play a huge role in the healing process for our service personnel, but it also proves a huge social return on investment.”

After Dr Bowen’s analysis, they concluded that for every $1 invested in this program, we see a $3.05 return in social value. This is a positive win for mental health support in these communities.

“We’re excited about the results of this study as it reiterates the positive impact of art therapy for service personnel and we are hoping it will help justify this practice for art therapy practitioners and programmes leaders when applying for funding applications,” Dr Bowen explained.

“This research also shows the value of the programs our loyal supporters are donating to – that their donation is making a real time impact on the mental health of our service personnel.

Throughout Dr Bowen’s research, eight key outcomes were developed from those accessing the program, including:

  • Improved emotional and psychological wellbeing
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved intrapersonal relationships
  • Reduced social isolation and enhanced social engagement
  • Ability to return to the workplace
  • Able to return to other productive roles
  • Reduction in ‘health-at-risk’ behaviours
  • Reduction in mental health hospitalisation.

“We know that defence and emergency service personnel may be exposed to a high number of traumatic events during their employment, which can result in severe emotional distress,” Dr Bowen explained.

“This distress can develop into post-traumatic stress symptoms or even a diagnosis of PTSD.

“Art therapy has been growing in popularity as a possible trauma-focused treatment for PTSD, especially for defence and emergency service personnel.

“We’re excited to see how these results impact future funding applications.”

MESHA is proud to be supporting Dr Bowen’s world-first research which is already proving its life-changing impact on our veterans and emergency service personnel.

Click here to access the full article or or contact Dr Bowen at [email protected] to obtain a copy.

If you would like to find out more about MESHA’s art based programs, click here or contact us on (08) 7002 0877.

This study formed part of Dr Bowen’s PhD and was partially funded through the University of South Australia.

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