Cultural experiences and mental health

How important is Art for our Wellbeing? Join us for our event on Mental Health Awareness Week to find out!

On the 13th of May, St Edmund Hall’s Centre for the Creative Brain presents an evening exploring the intersection between mental health and the arts. We will investigate the role of cultural experiences as an intervention for mental illness, through discussion with researchers from the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. We will examine how art can be used to support medical professionals in their clinical development, and what students and professionals from medical fields can bring to the art.


Dr. Jim Harris is Andrew W Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, and leads the Ashmolean’s academic engagement programme across the curriculum of the University of Oxford. He trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and as an Art Historian at the Courtauld Institute of Art. His research employs the technical examination of sculptural materials and surfaces, to investigate issues of artistic and patronal intention and the shifting meaning of objects. He has published extensively, including research at the intersection of art, neuroscience and psychiatry, and runs an award winning project ‘Exploring Psychiatry through Images and Objects’.

Dr. Rebecca Syed Sheriff is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Oxford and Senior Clinic Research Fellow in the Oxford University Department of Psychiatry. She has led the O-ACE study (online active community engagement), a project aiming to optimise online cultural resources to help young people with their mental health.

Susan McCormack is the Director of Public Engagement at the Ashmolean. Susan worked for the V&A for over 15 years, pioneering popular and critically acclaimed exhibitions, commissions and live programmes. In her role at the Ashmolean, she is responsible for exhibitions, public programmes and digital content. Recently she has been collaborating on the O-ACE study.

Helen Adams is responsible for delivering digital engagement, communications and evaluation aspects of the GLAM Digital Strategy (Gardens, Libraries and Museums). Previously, she was the Curator and Engagement Officer for the Pitt Rivers Museum, and worked for the V&A for 12 years as an Outside Professional Assistant. Recently she has been collaborating on the O-ACE study.