International Conference Culture & Mental Health: call for contributions

24 and 25 November 2022 | Museum Dr. Guislain | Ghent

Museum Dr. Guislain and Iedereen Leest teamed up to deliver the International Conference Culture & Mental Health on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November 2022. Proposals have been submitted from people working on creative, art-based, innovative or out-of-the-box projects. Enrollment will start in summer 2022.

Conference aim

© Iedereen Leest & Museum Dr. Guislain

Cultural & Mental Health international conference will take place in Ghent, Belgium on 24 and 25 November 2022. This conference seeks to promote learning, discussion and debate around cultural interventions aimed at improving the wellbeing of people recovering from mental health difficulties or people in a vulnerable situation.

Studies show the positive effect on well-being and health of both active and passive art and culture participation – from listening to music and reading a book to visiting a museum or dancing. Cultural participation is not only good for our well-being, but also has a preventive effect to prevent certain mental and physical complaints.

This conference wants to bring together individuals from the public, academic, third sector and voluntary sectors. To share experiences, practices and knowledge about the importance and impact of the arts, reading, heritage and creativity on improving mental health, wellbeing and resilience.

A symbolic venue

© Karin Borghouts & Museum Dr. Guislain

The Museum Dr. Guislain is an obvious choice as a venue for this conference. Housed in the oldest mental asylum in Belgium, which dates back to 1857, surrounded by a mental health hospital. This museum aims to break down the many prejudices that still define what is ‘mentally ill’ and what is ‘normal’.


More than a conference

A journey to the amazing city of Ghent for this conference is more than worthwhile. But as an extra we’re going to offer the participants exclusive pre-conference events organised in unique locations in Ghent, an exciting social programme and the opening in Museum Dr. Guislain of a special conference exhibition that will reflect on textiles, slow crafts and mental health.

3 Strands

All the contributions for this conference will be structured in the programme around the following strands:

Lived experience

The concept 'lived experience' is used in many areas especially in relation to mental health. From service-users to people who experience mental health challenges. We are looking for arts, reading, heritage or creativity-based offerings, projects, engagements:

  • that are delivered by people with lived experience, for example in co-operation with a recovery academy;
  • that reflect on the lived experience of vulnerable people and communities;
  • that are developed from and are delivered in the world of young adults.

Social justice

Certain people and communities have a higher risk of mental health problems because of greater exposure and vulnerability to unfavorable living condintions.  We are looking for arts, reading, heritage or creativity-based offerings, projects, engagements:

  • that help to tackle broader societal challenges such as poverty, exclusion, etc.;
  • that look at circumstances or events that had adverse effects on the participants mental health and wellbeing;
  • that reflect on how practitioners or the wither community deal with structural inequalities, inequity, racism, and social structures as causes of mental health problems;
  • that focus on strategies practitioners developed for working in a multi-ethnic and multicultural context.


There’s a strong relation between mental health and the physical environments. We are looking for arts, reading, heritage or creativity-based offerings, projects, engagements:

  • that demonstrate how libraries or museums act as social infrastructure. An environment where people can participate and interact with each other. For example as buffers against loneliness and social isolation;
  • that use green spaces or growing for community engagement;
  • that work with the tangible and intangible heritage of a place. For example the build environment, stories, crafts and archives that make up industrial heritage of a city.

Call for Contributions

© Simon Bequoye en Iedereen Leest

We are looking for proposals from people working on creative, art-based, innovative or out-of-the-box projects, connected to one of the strands outlined above, in a research or operational capacity that can contribute to this conference.
You can contribute trough a formal presentations or workshops (see below). The contributions are to be given in English.

Paper is presented in presentation in a conventional setting and in a PowerPoint- or PDF format. The sessions consist of minimum 3 papers, with the possibility of a question and discussion period at the end of each session.
A workshops offers a practical, hands-on demonstration or training in a particular method or aspect of interventions. Workshops a given during a single session of 90 minutes.


The deadline to submit a proposal was 1 March 2022. Discover the programme and other practical information about the conference.

All proposals will be reviewed by the conference program committee. We expect to inform all those who have put forward a proposal the result of their deliberations in May 2022.

Accepted proposals receive a free full ticket for the conference.

Program Committee

Bart De Nil, chair (Iedereen Leest, Belgium)
Winny Ang (University Antwerp, Belgium)
Simon Bequoye (Iedereen Leest, Belgium)
Julia Cort (Horniman Museum & Gardens, UK)
Bruce Davenport (Newcastle University, UK)
Isobel Hunter (Libraries Connected, UK)
Thomas Kador (University College London, UK)
Bart Marius (Museum Dr. Guislain, Belgium)
Tom Vansteenkiste (Recovery Academy Antwerp, Belgium)
Angela Van Dijk (LKCA, The Netherlands)
Claire Wellesley-Smith (Open University, UK)
Lieselot De Wilde (University Ghent, Belgium)

Culture & Mental Health is hosted by Museum Dr. Guislain and Iedereen Leest in co-operation with University Ghent Ghent Social Work and Social Pedagogy and University College London Arts and Science.