Free online arts programme to boost mental health and wellbeing

Free online arts programme to boost mental health and wellbeing

Have you been feeling isolated, anxious or low during lockdown? Then give your wellbeing a boost and try Creative Alternatives online.

Creative Alternatives is an award-winning arts on prescription service that offers residents of St Helens the opportunity to access to a free programme that is centred around creative activities, wellbeing and self-care. 

Creative Alternatives has been delivering its service in St Helens Borough for the past five years but during the COVID-19 crisis they have created an online version of their local programme so they could continue to support and help their clients who are experiencing poor mental health during a very difficult time.  

Creative Alternatives online will provide a regular programme of activities with the aim to improve mental health and wellbeing through virtual connections. Once referred, clients can take part in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental online space, that will allow them to get creative and find positive ways to be at one with themselves whilst also still having the chance to meet other people via an online platform.  

Their online service combines a mix of weekly art-activity videos, live expressive writing group sessions, mindfulness podcasts, interactive forums along with self-care information and sign-posting relating to both the Covid-19 crisis and general mental wellbeing & resilience. All the art activities have been designed so they can be done in the safety of the home environment using innovative art materials that can also be found in the home! The weekly live video sessions then provide an opportunity for clients to still connect and interact with other people on the programme as well as the Artists who lead the sessions.  

Research shows that the arts can help improve a person’s wellbeing and reduce the symptoms of anxiety or depression and this is even more important during this recent pandemic where so many people have been isolated, feeling low and/or stressed. It’s for this reason that St Helens Borough Council’s Public Health service fund this initiative as part of their remit to help people in the borough stay well.  

Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure, Libraries, Arts and Heritage, said: “We’re really proud of our award-winning Creative Alternatives programme and how it has helped some of our most vulnerable residents though a very difficult time in their life.   

“Creativity can give a person something meaningful to do with their time, allow them to explore their feelings – and take time out to relax and unwind.   

“I’d encourage anyone who may benefit from this programme to register and discover how the arts is such a good therapy for coping with mental health and wellbeing. You’ll be supported every step of the way.”   

Creative Alternatives’ online programme will now continue until early 2021 and they want to let more local people access their virtual service until it is safe to resume their usual face to face activities. 
The feedback from the online programme to date has been very positive with participants saying that it has been a lifeline during a very stressful and uncertain time in their lives and whilst many of them had initial reservations about taking part online, it has really helped to boost their confidence because they overcame a fear and preconception about what it might be like.  

One participant who recently took part said: “I was quite nervous as to whether I could do it to begin with but with the help, support and understanding of the staff they made me realise I could.

 “Not only have I learnt some new skills, I have really enjoyed and appreciated the regular contact with the other group members and being creative each week has really helped me cope and given me something to look forward to each week. I would say to anyone feeling low or anxious, please don’t be put off by being online, give it a chance and once you get used to it you’ll love it.”  

Creative Alternatives forms part of St Helens Borough Council’s Cultural Hubs, Arts in Libraries Programme, which is supported through funding from Arts Council England. The service is free to access and all the workshops are led by people trained in arts and health programmes. Individuals need to be 18 & over and can either refer themselves or be referred by their GP, counsellor or another health or social care professional. There will also be online taster sessions on offer throughout the coming months where people can find out more before joining up.  

So whether you’re a complete beginner or someone who enjoys being creative but might have lost your confidence, it really doesn’t matter. The emphasis is on relaxing, enjoying yourself and trying out activities in the safety of your own home that can help focus your mind and make you feel more connected whilst social distancing restrictions are still in place.  

If you would like to find out more about Creative Alternatives online, please get in touch with Helen Holden, Project Coordinator for St Helens, on 07745 590698 or email  

For more general information about Creative Alternatives please visit  

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