Social support

There has been a wealth of research into the social benefits of arts engagement, with implications for people’s health. ‘Social’ aspects that have been most linked in with health are loneliness and social isolation, with research over the past two decades in particular highlighting their negative effect on health. For example, people who experience loneliness are two to five times more likely to die prematurely.(125) Unfortunately, estimates suggest loneliness is very common. For example, the UK White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People (2010) highlighted that around one in 10 older people experience chronic loneliness.(126) In contrast, social support has been shown to support mental health, wellbeing, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and immune function, and mortality,(127-129) as well as acting as a buffer for psychological stress.(130) The arts have been shown to impact directly on various aspects of social support, including social bonding,(131-133) with enhanced social support itself becoming a mediator to wider health enhance- ments.(59,133-135)

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