The MARCH Network: Culture, community and mental health

The arts-health community often wants to keep in clear view, the sense that our health – or our lack of health – is effectively an expression of the quality of the fabric of our society.

The  MARCH Network in the UK is a research and practice network that focuses on social, cultural and community assets – which includes the arts, culture, heritage sites, libraries, green spaces, community centres, social clubs, community associations and volunteer groups – and the role they play in enhancing public mental health and wellbeing, preventing mental illness, and supporting those living with mental health conditions.

Australians may be interested in following the activities of the Network (you can join for free) and undertaking similar advocacy work in making the value of our cultural and community resources more visible. We share concerns about the consequences of degrading our social fabric – funding cuts and growing inequality are the metaphorical equivalent of unpicking fancy stitches, yanking off sequins and applique, and ripping at crazy fun patching and carefully crafted darning – in the form of growing concerns about mental illhealth.

I acknowledge here how old these concepts are. For two centuries Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been explaining that ‘health’ is indivisible from culture, community and Country. Considerable grassroots community renewal springs from this recognition.


Posted by Dr Claire Hooker.