The World Health Organization in November inked the final chapter in its initiative to support mental health treatment and recovery in face of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO's website touts the year-long initiative, Healng Arts 2021, as advocating for the evidence-based use of art to improve mental health in light of the pandemic. Feelings of grief, anxiety and loneliness from isolation have increased on a mass scale in COVID-19's wake.
Christopher Bailey, arts and health lead for WHO, notes how the arts can improve people's lives. When the arts are placed in the context of health care systems, art can "improve health care outcomes, lowering costs and support recovery from illness and injury."
To counter mental health concerns brought by the pandemic, WHO's campaign took a three-prong approach: research, cultural practice and global policy. WHO's website notes the pandemic has also agitated several other crises, such as the environment, economy, political stability and social equity.
The final event of Healing Arts was a symposium held in New York City in conjunction with the New York Met. The event featured artists and researchers from around the globe.
A seven-hour video of the symposium can be found on a website sponsored by CultuRunner, an organization advocating for a cross-cultural arts experience.
The media, artists, researchers and Christie's auction house were all involved with the arts initiative, along with the WHO Foundation and the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations. Events were also held in Houston, London, Venice, Paris and New Delhi.
WHO's campaign included arts sales from museums in England and Italy, according to theartnespaper.com in a March 17, 2021 article by Hannah McGivern. Proceeds were used for mental health treatment. A symposium in March was held in London.
In that article, Christopher Bailey is quoted as saying, "Art has a unique ability to help us comfort, confront, contextualize and create community." In other words, art helps in chasing away loneliness.