Older people taking part in a drumming workshop

July 9, 2013, by Emma Thorne

Transforming healthcare with the humanities

The University of Nottingham is at the forefront of a quiet — yet global — revolution focusing on reinstating the compassion and humanity into our healthcare systems by offering a more holistic approach to nurture both patients and practitioners alike. Professor Paul Crawford, the world’s first Professor of Health Humanities, talks about the recent launch of the new Nottingham Health Humanities (NHH) network.

Launched with a showcase on 28 June 2013, Nottingham Health Humanities (NHH), supported by the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS), brings together established and enthusiastic researchers involved in interdisciplinary research funded by prestigious funding bodies into how applied arts and humanities can inform and transform healthcare and enhance physical and mental health and well-being. In the wake of the Francis Report into failed care at Mid-Staffs, Nottingham Health Humanities offers a timely, new vision and approaches to bringing the human back into healthcare.

Led by myself, the world’s first professor of health humanities, the NHH builds on the congruent work of both the AHRC-funded International Health Humanities Network and Madness and Literature Network and other earlier activities and initiatives across the University.  With its members holding in excess of £6m congruent research funding, NHH is clearly primed to bring together networks and teams of academics, practitioners and other stakeholders from the United Kingdom and overseas, advancing investigation into how the arts and humanities can provide new opportunities for sustaining the health and well-being of diverse populations.

In summary, the NHH:

  • Is the first and leading major body in the UK explicitly dedicated to the new and fast-developing field of the health humanities
  • Offers a flagship of diverse partnership between academic, clinical, third sector and community-based organisations or groups.
  • Brings together the University’s world class research capability in applied social sciences, arts, and humanities in healthcare, health and well-being
  • Establishes major partnerships, not least the National Institutes of Health in the US, NHS UK Trusts, Harvard University, Fudan University and a rich variety of third sector and service user organisations, showing a clear commitment to involvement and public impact
  • Outreaches through diverse and inclusive networks, websites and archive developments not least at www.healthhhumanities.org and www.madnessandliterature.org.

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Alan Ford, joined me in opening the showcase, with a keynote address from Danny Wedding (California School of Professional Psychology) and many other speakers/ contributors within and without our university who are working in this new and growing field, not least Jenny Kitzinger (Cardiff), Ahmed Hankir (Manchester) and our own talent across diverse faculties and schools, such as Justine Schneider, Stephen Mumford, Victoria Tischler, Christina Lee, Gary Winship, Peter Rutherford, Charley Baker,  James Mansell, Richardo Rodrigues, Chris Woodward, Kevin Harvey, Matt Green, Didem Ekici, Jonathan Coope, Theo Stickley and Matt Green.  Many others across the university from multiple schools attended the event.

It is pleasing to note that NHH already has several early-career researchers on its Associate Membership list alongside established national and international researchers on its Core Membership list.

The work of NHH will be further animated by the development of a new Centre for Social Futures at the Institute of Mental Health at the University, directed by Professor Crawford, for launch in December 2013, which will focus on social and cultural aspects of mental health care and well-being.

Posted in interdisciplinarity