The new programme is the second collaboration between the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Public Health Agency.

Rainbow Factory
Youth Action NI’s Rainbow Factory School of Performing Arts

Community organisations in Northern Ireland are sharing a £600k investment to support the emotional health of young people across the country.

‘ARTiculate’, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) and the Public Health Agency (PHA), will see funding recipients deliver custom-made arts projects over the next three years to young people whose health and wellbeing may be at increased risk.

It is the second such collaboration between the two bodies, following the ‘Here and Now’ Arts and Older People festival. It builds on the results of a recent survey that found 29% of females and 13% of males aged 16 to 24 in Northern Ireland had a possible mental illness.

Announcing the initiative, Northern Ireland’s Minister for Health, Michelle O’Neill, said: “The arts as a public health resource is beginning to be more widely appreciated, and access to the arts for our young people are now more important than ever.

“The ARTiculate programme, which supports the Protect Life 2 strategy, will challenge issues such as stigma, prejudice and discrimination associated with mental health and wellbeing, which all too many of our young people face every day.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added that the positive links between engagement in the arts and wellbeing are firmly established.

“Over the next three years we estimate that more than 35 groups will benefit from this programme, working with artists and arts organisations to find positive channels for self-expression, and marking the beginning of a life-long interest in the creative arts,” she said.

Community organisations

The first 15 organisations to be supported by the scheme include Barnardo’s, Youth Action Northern Ireland, and Arts Care, which have received up to £16k in funding.

Chair of the PHA Andrew Dougal labelled the project an “innovative” way to improve health and wellbeing.

“The PHA recognises the positive impact that the arts can play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of our young people,” he said.

“Participants will benefit in a number of ways, making new friends and connections, developing new skills, gaining confidence in their abilities and learning more about the help and support that is available on mental health.”