Government to back art therapy for schizophrenia patients

UK Government advisers are expected to recommend that art therapy be made available on the NHS to schizophrenia patients.

A report claims approval is likely to come after a consultation on the issue concludes this autumn.

The news comes afteran expert panel found art therapy works particularly well on patients with symptoms such as withdrawal and poor motivation.

Dr Tim Kendall, Co-Director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, who has helped put together draft guidance, said there are some Arts Therapists in place already but services are patchy.

He said: “We have pulled together data from six different trials on several hundred people and dance, art and music therapy all seem to have a positive benefit.

“In Sheffield where I work it’s available quite widely but some areas don’t have the services.”

The National Institute of Clinical and Health Excellence (NICE) will promote use of programmes offering music, art and dance therapy.

Schemes use trained therapists, with degrees in art, music or dance, and encourage people with schizophrenia to be creative as well as participating in group activities.

A consultation on the new recommendations will be open until November with final guidance due next year.

Dr Mike Crawford, an expert in mental health services at Imperial College London has carried out studies on arts therapy. He said the benefit of this type of treatment is it helps people communicate.

He told the BBC: “With psychoses part of the problem is hallucinations and delusions and it becomes really hard to talk to people about them.  People can become isolated because no one is listening to them.

“Although there is evidence these therapies work we don’t really know how.

“It’s possible they work because they just bring people together and break the cycle of isolation.”

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