Public Health East Sussex consider good health to be a measure of a person’s good physical and mental health, and the extent to which individuals in a society are enabled to live healthy and flourishing lives. A wealth of evidence exists demonstrating the positive impact that arts and creativity can have on our health, our individual and collective wellbeing, and our ability to live rich, meaningful lives across the lifespan. Artistic and cultural engagement can reduce medication use and GP visits; moderate symptoms in chronic health conditions, including diabetes, dementia, stroke and respiratory disease; decrease mortality rates; reduce pain and fatigue; and increase healthy behaviours. It can therefore be argued that the arts are a social determinant of health. East Sussex Public Health now consider arts and creativity as a key component of their prevention approach, improving quality of life and reducing the gap in healthy life expectancy for the population of East Sussex. This thinking is articulated in The East Sussex Creative Health Position Paper - September 2023.

The paper sights three key Strategic Priorities.

1: Creative Health and the Individual (micro) - Utilising Creative Health approaches to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

2: Creative Health and Community (meso)- In collaboration with partners in the culture, arts, heritage, health, and social care systems, to build and support creative health across East Sussex localities and communities.

3: Creative Health, Systems, Networks and Partnerships (macro) - Work with the Integrated Care Systems and wider cross-sector partners to embed and champion creative health across a wide range of service offers and settings, backed up with robust approaches to research and evaluation.

A Creative Health Delivery Action Plan is currently being developed. The East Sussex County Council Creative Health Delivery Action Plan (ESCC DAP), builds upon the case for change, ambitions, and opportunities set out within the ESCC Creative Health Position Paper and sets out a range of key actions and activities that seek to establish, embed and support a sustainable and impactful Creative Health programme across the East Sussex system linking into the key statutory and voluntary and community systems, partnerships, networks and frameworks. Utilising the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance Quality Framework the DAP will aim to support a wide range of system, community and individual opportunities all aimed at strengthening health improvement across a wide range of physical and mental health and wellbeing agendas.

Research is a core Public Health (PH) tool. It can help to address inequalities, by identifying new interventions and evidence that can prevent adverse health outcomes across the life course. The use of arts-based research methods and evaluation of place arts projects is ongoing. A Community Practise support collaborative is currently being developed to support local artists and commissioners to generate new knowledge and skills in monitoring, evaluation, and quality improvement.

You can see some of the creative health work taking place in East Sussex here.

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