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Impact on public attitudes of a mental health audio tour of the National Gallery in London

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Simon Riches, Natalie Steer, Ruxandra Vasile, Sophie Lyles, Laoise O'Reilly, Martina Guiotto, Tom Hughes, Meagan McKay, Megan Westhead, Rachel Latham, Joanne Newbury, Anna Murray, Amber Goneni, Aleksandra Orehova, Rachel Temple, Rose Thompson, Fiona Houston, Helen Fisher

Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Early online date31 Jan 2022
Accepted/In press18 Jan 2022
E-pub ahead of print31 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The audio tour was a collaboration between King's College London, The National Gallery, The McPin Foundation, The McPin Young People's Network, and Antenna International. We would like to thank the members of the McPin Young People's Network for their invaluable involvement in this project. It was supported by the UKRI Medical Research Council under the Engagement in Science Activities Seed Fund; and a British Academy Mid‐Career Fellowship to HLF [MD\170005]. HLF and RML were supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Centre for Society and Mental Health at King's College London [ES/S012567/1]. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the ESRC or King's College London. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Early Intervention in Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

King's Authors


Aim: The arts have the potential to increase public awareness about mental health and reduce stigma. However, arts-based projects to raise awareness have been small-scale. In this study, a mental health-awareness audio tour of The National Gallery in London was co-produced and narrated by young adults with relevant lived experience. The study investigated the acceptability of the tour to the public and evaluated its impact on public attitudes about mental health.

Methods: Participants were Gallery visitors over four consecutive days. The tour led visitors on ten stops through the Gallery. Each stop focused on artworks and Gallery spaces, challenged common myths about mental health, and invited visitors to consider their personal views. Participants completed measures of mood and attitudes about mental health pre- and post-tour and provided narrative feedback.

Results: Pre-tour, participants (N=213) reported high levels of happiness, compassion towards people with mental health conditions, comfort talking about mental health, and positive attitudes about mental health. Post-tour, participants (N=111) reported significant increases in happiness, comfort, and positive attitudes. In feedback, participants (N=85) reported that strengths of the tour were the music, inclusion of lived experience, art and mental health links, and reported that the tour was informative, innovative, and improved mental health awareness.

Conclusions: The tour increased positive attitudes, despite positive baseline attitudes, indicating the feasibility of arts-based interventions in major venues to reduce stigma. Sampling limitations and participant retention suggest that arts-based projects to raise awareness should target more diverse audiences and consider data collection strategies in large venues.

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