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Health Research Institute (HRI)

Publications and resources

On this page you will find a list of related publications and video resources to help you develop a deeper understanding of the Centre and what we are aiming to achieve.

Panels and Talks

Arts for the Blues

Arts for the Wellbeing of All: New Horizons in Research | Arts for the Blues

‘Supporting the wellbeing of helping professionals through creative interventions – recommendations and applications’ from the Arts for the Wellbeing of All: New Horizons in Research event at Edge Hill University in June 2023

Speakers: Professor Vicky Karkou, Emma Perris, Dr Joanna Omylinska-Thurston, Jane Hutton.

Darren Henley

The wellbeing dividend

Creativity, culture and wellbeing have been connected for thousands of years. Darren Henley, the Chief Executive of Arts Council England, will look at the Arts Council’s work in developing the field of Creative Health. He will explain how that work goes hand-in-hand with its commitment to work even more closely with communities and those in other sectors, and the benefits it can bring to those living in villages, towns and cities across England.

Darren Henley is chief executive of Arts Council England. Since joining the Arts Council in 2015, he has championed the positive impact of public investment in artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries on creating happier lives in villages, towns and cities across England.

His boardroom experience spans arts, media, education, charity and government. He currently chairs the UK National Lottery Forum and the National Lottery Promotions Unit management board, with previous roles including managing director of Classic FM and author of two independent government reviews into music education and cultural education. These resulted in England’s first National Plan for Music Education, new networks of Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, the Museums and Schools programme, the BFI Film Academy and the National Youth Dance Company.

A certified coach, Darren has a doctorate exploring the role of the outsider as an agent for change, and degrees in politics, management, applied positive psychology and history of art. He was appointed OBE in 2013 for services to music and CBE in 2022 for services to the arts, receiving the British Academy President’s Medal in 2015 for his contribution to music education, music research and the arts.

Dr Nisha Sajnani

The spaces between: Insights from a global series on the relationships between arts and health, arts therapies, and health equity

How should we move forward in our efforts to investigate and integrate evidence on the health benefits of the arts in health and care work while keeping health equity at the forefront of our organizing? This talk will draw on insights from a year-long open-access seminar series co-organized by New York University and University College London entitled “the spaces between” which has offered different perspectives on this question.

Dr. Nisha Sajnani is an Associate Professor and Director of the Program in Drama Therapy and Theatre and Health Lab; chair of the Creative Arts Therapies Consortium, and founding co-director of the Arts & Health initiative at New York University. She is also a co-founding, co-director of the Jameel Arts & Health Lab established in collaboration with the WHO to advance research on the health benefits of the arts and the integration of evidence in health systems.

Dr Nils Fietje

Arts and health: the journey into global health politics

Research into the impact of the arts on health has grown steadily over the past 50 years.  With the publication WHO’s 2019 scoping review on the evidence base for the arts to support health and well-being, the journey of the arts into global health politics began. Since then, significant progress has been made, both in Europe and beyond, to integrate arts and health into social prescribing mechanisms, and thereby into health systems. This talk will describe this journey, and provide some thoughts about which challenges are yet to be met.

Nils Fietje is a Technical Officer within the Behavioural and Cultural Insights Unit at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. He has a background in English literature and the cultural history of medicine. As part of the BCI Unit, he is leading efforts to understand how cultural contexts affect and interact with health and well-being, across the life-course and throughout the continuum of care. Recently, this work has included a particular focus on arts and health, having published the first-ever WHO report on the evidence base for arts and health interventions.

Dr. Guila Clara Kessous

How the Arts are Making us Equal 

To honour International Day of Refugees, Guila Clara Kessous will talk about how the arts can tackle health inequalities by explaining her work as Peace Ambassador, UNESCO Artist for Peace and as an artist on the ground (Rwanda, Bangladesh and Congo) using drama to help refugees and victims with post traumatic concerns. Based on extensive research, she will explore how the arts can contribute to the mental health and physical health of survivors. She will conclude this opening talk making specific recommendations on how to use the arts to reduce health inequalities.

Dr. Guila Clara Kessous is a Peace Ambassador and a UNESCO Artist for Peace. She is a theatre artist, professor, and an executive coach. On the one hand, she is using theatre techniques as tools that can help heal those who have suffered from prior trauma and on the other role-playing games to enhance corporate communication. Recipient of a doctorate under Nobel Prize of Peace Elie Wiesel, Dr. Kessous has created the program “Theatre and Human Rights” at Harvard University and was knighted by the French government for her work using theatre to help women victims of sexual violence with Dr. Mukwege in Congo.


Dr. Guila Clara Kessous

‘Break’ by Tenderfoot Theatre

With the NHS under immense pressure, medical staff in the UK are facing a pandemic of their own – with stress, burnout, and exhaustion at an all time high. Tenderfoot Theatre present ‘Break’ – a short reflection on the positive impact of creative expression and mindfulness on the mental wellbeing of healthcare practitioners. Developed from the stories and experiences of real healthcare professionals, Break is the story taking place in the shadows of the healthcare system; in the hospital corridors, cars, bathroom stalls, and nurse’s stations across the UK, in those brief but essential few minutes where our medical workers can come up for air and take a moment to breathe, to reflect, and to turn their incredible care inwards. 

Tenderfoot Theatre are an award-winning ecotheatre company, using theatre as a tool to connect people through conversation and action in the climate crisis, telling sustainable stories using sustainable methods. They are currently in residence at The Arts Centre.  

Director: Daniel Vernon  

Performers: Fran Clover, Chrissie Handley, Joseph Roberts 

Together Un/tethered

Together Un/tethered- Legacy piece 2023

Participants and artists joined a therapeutically informed Arts for the Blues group at the Liverpool Lighthouse and used their experiences to create this immersive performance. Interweaving movement, spoken word, innovative soundscape, projection and live cellist, Together Un/tethered explores themes of separation, connection, new possibilities and understanding. 

This immersive performance interweaves movement, spoken word, innovative soundscape, projection and live cellist exploring themes of separation, connection, new possibilities and understanding. Inspired by the Arts for the Blues programme, the performance dramatises the experiences involved in the process as each person sought to find themselves and connect with one another.

Researchers: Professor Vicky Karkou, Emma Perris, Pascale Barrett, Emma Edisbury.

Performers: Scott Thurston, Georgina Aasgaard, Claire Beerjeraz, Julia Griffin, George Meikle, Graham Kellett, Sandra George, Steph Hughan.

Black History Month: Creative Performances

The performances at our Black History Month event explored key issues relating to the term and perception of ‘black’. Performances include dance, screen silhouette and spoken word.

Panels and Talks

The role of arts, arts therapies and psychotherapies on issues of diversity and mental health awareness.

International perspectives: The role of arts, arts therapies and psychotherapies on issues of diversity and mental health awareness

During Black History Month, the Research Centre hosed an international panel held both online and at Edge Hill University. The panel explored some of the key issues relating to arts, art therapies and psychotherapies in relation to supporting mental health in black communities. The event was facilitated by Dr Nisha Sajnani, Director of the Drama Therapy programme at New York University.

Speakers included Samantha Adams (Black British Dramatherapist & Storyteller), Dr Refiloe Lepere (master storyteller, playwright, drama therapist, and facilitator), Jasmine Edwards (creative arts therapy coordinator and music therapist) Natasha Sackey (Dance Movement Psychotherapist & Somatic Body Mapping Practitioner), Dione Dalley (Art Psychotherapist) and Earl Pennycooke (Psychotherapist).

Iroro Azanuwha

Iroro Azanuwha

Iroro Azanuwha, a spoken word poet, performs ‘Seven Letters’ and shares some of his writing with us over Zoom. He uses poetry as a platform to communicate individual narratives, thus encouraging others to create their own narrative through words. He finds poetry to be a powerful way of expressing oneself and can be a key component in aiding healthy mental well-being. His style of writing is provocative and inspiring.


Supritha Aithal 

Supritha Aithal 

Supritha Aithal performs ‘Gaia’s Longing for Yamini’. Supritha is a trained Bharatanatyam artist, researcher and educator. Born into a family rooted in arts, Supritha began her formal dance training at the age of five under the guidance of Dr Sahana Bhat. Later, Supritha’s innate talent was nurtured and rigorously trained at Raasavrunda School of Dance in Mysuru, India. Her doctoral research explored the contribution of Dance Movement Psychotherapy for children on the autism spectrum and their caregivers. Currently, she works as a lecturer at the School of Applied Health and Social Care at Edge Hill University.

Andrea-May Oliver

Andrea-May Oliver

Andrea-May Oliver preforms ‘Tomorrow is Yesterday: This Side of Slavery’. Andrea-May is an experienced Dramatherapist, currently undertaking a Doctorate in Health, focusing her research on therapeutic interaction and engagement with black Windrush populations. She mostly works with children who have faced adverse and traumatic experiences, and is passionate about improving black outcomes in mental health.

PURE research

Explore our PURE website, detailing projects, profiles, and research outputs from the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing

PURE Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing