Empathy at a distance: a qualitative study on the impact of publically displayed art on observers.

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Hurley, J, Linsley, P, Rowe, S & Fontanella, F 2014, 'Empathy at a distance: a qualitative study on the impact of publically-displayed art on observers', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 419-426.

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While there is some evidence in the literature on the impact of art therapy for consumers, there is comparatively little written on how art that has been created by consumers impacts on those observing the art. This paper reports on a qualitative research study that sought to determine if publically-displayed art created by young consumers impacted on stigma reduction and self-help-seeking behaviours of the observers. The findings derived from the thematic analysis of qualitative interviews suggested that publically-displayed art is a safe medium, through which empathy and understanding towards young people with mental illness can be enhanced, and that the art generates discussion and self-help behaviours for mental illness. These findings highlight how mental health nurses can promote social inclusion and reduce stigma through public mental health initiatives that are an important inclusion in the scope of mental health nursing practice.

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