Background and History

Background and History

History of Arts and Minds

Building on the pioneering work of the Millennium Arts Project (MAP) initiated in 2000 by the Friends of Fulbourn Hospital and the Community, Arts and Minds began work early in 2007 to extend MAP throughout Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Aiming to include people of all ages with all forms of mental illness and learning disabilities and to offer arts participation as a preventative as well as a rehabilitative experience.

Arts and Minds have now established themselves as a leading innovator in the sphere of arts and mental health. Our contribution to the national evidence base is significant and our own research into the cost effectiveness of Arts on Prescription for people experiencing depression and anxiety (in partnership with health economists at London School of Economics) is a significant development for the sector as a whole.

Despite the small size of the staff team and the increased competition for a shrinking financial resource we have managed to maintain quality delivery across age groups and settings. We are proud of what we have done and what we continue to achieve.


The county is predominantly rural with 74% of the population living in market towns and villages. The cities of Cambridge in the south and Peterborough, a Unitary Authority in the northwest, exert a strong cultural and economic influence over the surrounding rural areas, providing a range of services. Mental health problems are common – with one in six people estimated to have a diagnosable mental health problem at any one time.

In 2012 it was estimated that 63,093 Cambridgeshire residents aged 18-64 had a common mental disorder (including disorders of depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder), 28,281 had more than one mental health condition, 1,761 had a borderline personality disorder, 1,388 had an anti-social personality disorder and 1,567 had a psychotic disorder (Source: PANSI).

The JSNA for adults with mental health problems found that while mental ill health is an issue throughout Cambridgeshire, rates are highest in Cambridge City and Fenland. Known risk factors include deprivation, employment, housing needs, incapacity benefit, limiting long-term illness, violence, safety, substance misuse, physical health and marginalised groups.

Gypsies and Travellers, migrant workers, people from ethnic minorities, offenders, homeless people, people with substance misuse problems, people with learning disabilities, carers and people living in new communities are at increased risk of mental ill-health and are less likely to access the services that could help them.

Arts and Minds delivers or is developing work across ages and addresses particular groups of the population through project development. Here are some statistics that supports the belief that there is a need within the population for our input.


It is estimated that there are around 136,000 children and young people under the age of 19 living in Cambridgeshire. The population of children in Cambridgeshire is due to rise 10.3% by 2021. Applying national prevalence data of Cambridgeshire to the local population shows the following:

  • There are approximately 5,000 children under the age of five with mental health problems,
  • There are approximately 8,000 children between the ages of 5-16 and 1,275 children between 16 and 17 years of age.
  • It is estimated that children aged 5-16 years in Cambridgeshire 3,100 have an emotional disorder,
  • It is estimated that 4,800 have a conduct disorder, 1,200 have a hyperkinetic disorder and 1,100 have a less common disorder, including 740 with autism.National prevalence estimates suggest that there are between 54,000 and 58,000 military veterans living in Cambridgeshire. The prevalence of mental disorders in younger veterans is three times higher than the UK population of the same age. Exposure to violent or traumatic experiences, instability in domestic life, difficulties in making the transition from service to civilian life and the consequences of the excessive drinking culture increase mental health risks for veterans.The number of working age adults (16-64 years) in Cambridgeshire was estimated to be 408,141 in 2011. This is predicted to rise by 3.1% (12,468 people) by 2021. (ONS)

    Older People

  • In Cambridgeshire in 2011, there were 101,400 people aged 65 or over. People in Cambridgeshire are living longer and the number of people over 65 is set to grow by approximately 19% in the next four years and 33% in the next nine years. Preventative approaches are important to ensure older people remain healthy and independent in the community for longer, and to address the cost of health and social care services for this growing population. Over a third of older people in the UK are likely to experience mental health problems.