ATTUNE: A national consortium of academic, public sector, VCS and charity partners developing interdisciplinary research into arts and mental health through participatory arts-based research.

Four people sitting on steps wearing jeans and trainers

Project details

Project leads Anna Mankee-Williams, Professor Minhua Eunice Ma and Professor Kam Bhui
Centre alignment Centre for Arts & Health
Start date April 2020
End date Ongoing
Project website

The ATTUNE research collaboration is seeking to explore the individual, environmental, social, economic, educational and geographical factors that have an impact on the mental health of young people, both positive and negative.

In phase one of the ATTUNE collaboration aimed at informing all future work, we undertook a series of participatory co-discovery activities with young people. The results of the activities will inform further collaborative research work within the ATTUNE research consortium.

A developing area of interest is on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which can have a profound impact on lifetime mental health of young people, including a significant reduction in life expectancy of up to 20 years. The Attune consortium is actively seeking opportunities to further explore this area.

Project team

The ATTUNE consortium is a national consortium that includes clinicians, academics and service providers from across the UK. 

The Falmouth team includes a number of lecturers and researchers with a keen interest in this area of mental health, wellbeing, co-discovery and co-design within creative practice. Other consortium members are listed in our partner section.

Introduction to ATTUNE | Research Project

Anna Mankee-Williams

Associate Professor, Arts and Health

Anna is an Associate Professor in Arts and Health. Anna has 22 years’ experience in the health sec...

Anna Mankee-Williams

Professor Tanya Krzywinska

Professor of Digital Games

Tanya started playing computer-based games on Usenet when working at the Digital Equipment Corporati...

Professor Tanya Krzywinska
David Prior

Professor David Prior

Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Knowledge Exchange

I joined Falmouth as Associate Professor in Music and Sound Art in 2010. Now as Pro Vice-Chancellor ...

Professor David Prior

Dr Ruth Pethybridge

Senior Lecturer, Dance

Dr Ruth Pethybridge is a choreographer, facilitator and researcher. She has delivered dance in ...

Dr Ruth Pethybridge
Karen Brett

Karen Brett

Senior Lecturer

Karen Brett is an artist working with photography, moving image & sound who graduated with a BA ...

Karen Brett

Katharine Nicholls

Senior Lecturer

With over a decade in the Animation industry in addition to her work as a freelance illustrator, art...

Katharine Nicholls


ATTUNE is in partnership with the following people and organisations:

  • Professor Kam Bhui CBE, Oxford University
  • Dr Siobhan Hugh-Jones, Associate Professor in Mental Health Psychology at the University of Leeds
  • Dr Mina Fazel, Associate Professor School-based mental health interventions, Oxford University
  • Professor Nicola Shaugnessy, Kent University, contemporary performance, autobiography, applied and socially engaged theatre with specialist research interests in the neurodiverse population.
  • Dr Sania Shakoor Lecturer in Mental Health, Centre for Psychiatry, QMUL
  • Daisy Fancourt, Associate Professor of Psychiobiology & Epidemiology/Wellcome RF, UCL
  • Professor Peter Fongay, Professor Epidemiology/Wellcome RF, UCL
  • Professor Craig Moran, Professor of Social Epidemiology, KCL
  • Paul Mcrone, Health Economics, Greenwich University
  • Georgina Hosang, Senior Lecturer in Chronic Disease Management, QMUL
  • Cornwall Council
  • Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust
  • Young People Cornwall
  • Aardman Animations

Outcomes & outputs

To gauge an understanding of the use and appeal of creative practices in mental health and wellbeing research, we conducted an online survey amongst University students at Falmouth. The findings of the study (n=58) suggest that the 'virtual' and 'real' environment are equally important as outlets for creative practice. Amongst the participants 83% view digital modes (i.e. applications, VR/AR gaming) as being useful for diagnosis and providing therapeutic support for mental health problems, specifically depression, anxiety and trauma. Significantly, 55% identified 'university to employment' as a stressful life transition followed by 34% who indicated 'A-level to university' was the most challenging.

The HeadStart Learning Report identified the challenges of surveying younger adolescents (10 – 16 years) during the Covid-19 lockdown period using a purely digital approach with no peer or face-to-face support. The learning from this activity, alongside the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on young people will inform future research activities and engagement methodology.

The Padlet Participation event held by Oxford University and the Leeds Care Leavers PPI focus group confirmed perceptions that: Creative arts can help young people express their voices and reduce stress levels whilst doing so, however all research in this area with young people must make sure that young people are appropriately supported. This includes support for young people as they move from digital and virtual world experiences into physical and real-world experiences. There was support for the consortium focus on rural, remote and deprived areas and for the consortium approach of capturing lived experience and user centred design. The young people engaged in the focus groups all highlighted that choice of engagement (digital and physical) is preferred.

Useful links

Impact & recognition

The ATTUNE consortium through its research is seeking to influence policy makers, health care commissioners and providers, and all organisations and settings that work with and for young people.

Project media

Public media for ATTUNE includes:

ATTUNE project video
ATTUNE: Remote in Blue

Listen to our ATTUNE Project Podcast:

Project news

Still from ATTUNE animation
ATTUNE animation

ATTUNE x Aardman Animations: New video focuses on young people's mental health

10 October 2023

In recognition of World Mental Health Day 2023, young participants of ATTUNE have released a video h...

ATTUNE x Aardman Animations: New video focuses on young people's mental health
Young adults cutting out pieces of coloured paper
For Attune

Provost Eunice Ma discusses mental health project on BBC podcast

21 January 2022

Professor Minhua Eunice Ma, Provost of Falmouth University, spoke to Dr Daisy Fancourt and Professor...

Provost Eunice Ma discusses mental health project on BBC podcast
Dance Female Sitting Stretch Calex Faulkner 1
Dance Female Sitting Stretch Calex Faulkner 1

Blending creativity with technology to tackle trauma in young people

28 June 2021

Academic researchers from Oxford University have teamed up with Falmouth University to deliver ATTUN...

Blending creativity with technology to tackle trauma in young people