Breathe Magic for Mental Health - Breathe

Breathe Magic for Mental Health

Tue 16 Mar 2021

To mark Brain Awareness Week, Breathe Arts Health Research are proud to share the latest news on our Breathe Magic for Mental Health (BMMH) programme.

BMMH, was created from ten years of research and feedback from our Breathe Magic programme for young people with hemiplegia, where our team have seen the profound effect magic had on improving mental health, confidence and self-esteem.

In 2016-17, Breathe Board member and Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, Dr Fancourt, undertook a research study to investigate the clinical impact of the Breathe Magic programme on mental health. Dr Fancourt’s study, published in 2019 in BioMed Central Pediatrics, proved the huge benefits that our award winning Breathe Magic programme has not only on physical health, but also on social and psychological outcomes.

We ran a pilot in 2013 within the children’s mental health inpatient unit, Mildred Creak Unit, at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). The combination of findings from this and our recent research study inspired us to further develop BMMH.

Check out our pilot programme at GOSH in this short film.

Since Covid-19, our determination and commitment to deliver more BMMH has only increased knowing this work is needed now more than ever.

  • 67% of 13-25-year-olds believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. YoungMinds.
  • Almost 50% of the UK population’s mental health is at risk because of Covid. Open Evidence

So this year, we are delighted to have secured five fantastic partnerships to explore the benefits of magic for a range of cognitive and mental health gains; Breathe Magic for Memory, Breathe Magic for Mental Health, Breathe Magic for Creativity and Breathe Magic for Communication.

“Breathe Magic is a fun form of memory practice, self-presentation and hand coordination, and I love it. Magic is a conversation starter where I, as the magician, have the upper hand.” Mike, Breathe Magic for Memory Participant (Headway)

We have teamed up with Headway East London and Headway Nottingham, to develop Breathe Magic for Memory. Using specially designed magic sessions to improve sequencing, ordering, narrative and memory skills for those with memory loss and associated mental health issues as a result of a brain injury.

I find it fun and curious watching the Breathe Magicians. And when I do magic myself it makes me feel a whole lot more confident, able, included and empowered.
Calvin, Breathe Magic for Memory Participant (Headway).

We have also returned to Great Ormond Street Hospital to help young people aged 7-14 to build confidence and aid the improvement of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, and are very excited to be working with Open School East Margate for the first time to co-create Magic for Creativity. This new programme utilises magic as a tool to inspire creativity in young people experiencing mental health and social challenges.

Our recent collaboration with Compass Collective, uses magic to improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills, story-telling, presentation and narrative building for young asylum seekers and refugees aged 16 – 24.

“Breathe Magic for Mental Health has been a joyful experience to be part of. In spite of the limitations of zoom, we can see the level of engagement and pleasure that learning a new skill like magic has brought. The challenges the participants are facing vary enormously, but they are all united by their smile as they enjoy the playful, intriguing and surprising world of magic.” Richard, Breathe Magician

We hope to continue developing and building on the success of our BMMH programmes, to aid mental health improvement for those with a wide range of challenges. A big Breathe thank you to Arts Council England, UK GOV and Here for Culture whose vital funds have supported and enabled us to do this important work.

By supporting our work, you're enabling us to reach more people with our creative healthcare programmes