At RAMH we are delighted to hear that Paisley has been shortlisted as one of the final 5 nominations for City of Culture 2021. Having provided mental health services across the west of Scotland since 1990, we know the positive impact that culture and creativity have on mental health and well-being.

Culture and creativity are essential for sustained good mental health because self-expression is meaningful. We are all too aware of the benefits of the arts in mental health recovery; at RAMH we regularly use singing, drama, writing and woodwork for their therapeutic value, and to lessen symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Being creative boosts energy levels and feelings of well-being, plus it strengthens immunity and decreases stress. Our monthly Culture Club supports people, regardless of their background or diagnosis, to access local music, comedy, cinema and exhibitions, because engaging with the arts brings a sense of joy and hope. In essence, it’s food for the soul.

Equally, having a sense of identity and belonging, and a feeling that you are part of a thriving community is crucial for enhancing mental health. Everybody needs to feel connected to their environment and connected to the people around them. Connectedness overcomes loneliness and social isolation, which can negatively impact our mental and physical health, and is said to be as detrimental as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Being connected brings benefits such as increased confidence and self-esteem, feelings of being valued, the opportunity to use existing skills and learn new things. Consequently, it improves people’s chances in life.

RAMH continues to build on its reputation for being a progressive provider of mental health services by developing “social prescribing” services in GP surgeries. Social prescribing is a non medical intervention that focuses on an individual’s strengths, interests and passions and provides opportunities to get involved in arts, sport, community groups or other therapeutic activity. It is successful because it has increased patients’ wellbeing, and in some cases has reduced their symptoms and need for medication. In many cases, addressing the roots of someone’s wellbeing and mental health and making non medical efforts to improve this, has led to a reduction in GP appointments, thus reducing the pressure that much of our local health care system is currently under.

We’re hugely excited by the prospect of Paisley 2021 and the boost it will bring to the wellbeing of all people in our communities, and across the west of Scotland. We are certain that the project will have a long term positive effect within local communities, and we look forward to hearing the result being announced in December.