Creating Connection Through ArtBeat: A Music & Arts Festival

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is almost upon us again, this year the conference will be held over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Miss Madeline Bridgland, Music Therapist at Gold Coast Health joins us at the conference to discuss ‘Creating Connection Through ArtBeat: A Music & Arts Festival’.


Gold Coast Health places a high emphasis on community and consumer engagement. Looking for opportunities to align with local initiatives to increase community connections and consumer pathways is therefore vital in how healthcare is delivered. This is achieved through hosting ‘ArtBeat’ during Queensland Mental Health Week (QMHW) each year.

ArtBeat is a music and arts festival designed to celebrate the creative strengths of people living with a mental illness. Artists and musicians who identify as having a lived experience of mental illness are invited to either submit art to be displayed in the exhibition or perform as part of the music festival.

A qualitative inquiry was used to identify the outcomes of ArtBeat. Surveys inviting responses to a combination of open and closed questions regarding peoples’ experiences at ArtBeat (from 2014-2017) were used to collect data. A thematic analysis revealed the results.

Results revealed three main themes:
1. Provides social inclusion and connectedness
2. Offers opportunity to support people living with a mental illness
3. Creates a positive atmosphere of celebration in raising awareness about mental health.

This presentation will highlight that through running an event like ArtBeat, Gold Coast Health provided an opportunity for the community to come together in support of raising awareness about mental health. By aligning with QMHW there was increased opportunity for the service to do this by partnering with local non-government organisations.

ArtBeat provided consumers with increased motivation, increased engagement with the service, and improvements in their self-esteem and sense of identity. For staff, it allowed for further education around mental health and gave opportunities to show their support for consumers living with a mental illness. For the community it provided information about the different services available in maintaining good mental health, empowering people to start conversations and seek help when needed.


Madeline is a Music Therapist specialising in mental health on the Gold Coast. She has enjoyed working in the field for five years now, providing music therapy services within inpatient settings across acute and rehabilitation settings. She completed a Masters in Mental Health (in psychotherapy) in 2016 and maintains a strong passion for the inclusion of non-pharmacological treatments in mental health care.

For further information on the 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit





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