Breathe Magic for Mental Health - Breathe

Breathe Magic for Mental Health

Our programme exploring the effect of magic on improving mental health, confidence and self-esteem

Building on ten years of research and feedback from our Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy programme, Breathe Magic for Mental Health is tailored to aid mental health improvement for groups with a wide range of challenges, adapting to the impact of the pandemic.

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

We also ran a pilot 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 Breathe Magic for Mental Health.

Magic is the art of body language and storytelling. To successfully perform magic, you need a detailed understanding of eye contact, directing your audience’s attention and confident storytelling. Contrastingly, those with mental health conditions often avoid eye contact, can become shy/withdrawn and struggle socially.

By teaching specially selected Breathe Magic tricks, we engage people in a playful understanding of the power and impact of body language, verbal and non-verbal communication and build confidence and self-belief by learning a new skill they can share with friends and family. Participants take part in something engaging, fun and unusual, whilst learning tools and techniques that will last them a lifetime, whilst building confidence, improving mental health and reducing symptoms.

My neurologist always tells me that it’s very hard for me to learn new skills and take in new information. Well now there is a whole box of new skills and information that I can access and enjoy. The way in which the magic was taught was effective and simple, and it worked. When we learnt a new skill and realised we could do it, it was a great feeling. It boosted our confidence and emotional wellbeing.
Dave, Participant Headway East London Read more

In 2021, Breathe have secured five partnerships to date, exploring the benefits of magic for many cognitive and mental health gains; Breathe Magic for Memory, in partnership with Headway East London and Headway Nottingham. Breathe Magic for Communication in partnership with Compass Collective and Breathe Magic for Mental Health in partnership with Open School East and GOSH.

These 6-8 week programmes were developed and delivered by our team of professional magicians, working closely with our partners and occupational therapists, to create the content and magic tricks to meet the needs of the participants.

Check out our Breathe Magic for Mental Health Infographic to see the impact of using the art of magic to build confidence, self-esteem, communication skills and improve mental health


In the first two months, we engaged 40 participants across these programmes, from 7 years old to 70

The Breathe Magic group found massive enjoyment in learning and showing their newly learnt magic tricks. The fact that they could do a magic trick and have the same result as a professional magician from The Magic Circle, instilled huge confidence in them.
Charlotte, Occupational Therapist Headway Nottingham Read more

Our Partners

Thanks to support from Arts Council England and DCMS Culture Recovery Fund funding, we are currently delivering more Breathe Magic for Mental Health programmes, including in-person delivery as well as online sessions.

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