Want to improve your mental health and wellbeing? Get craft-y

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Want to improve your mental health and well-being? Take up knitting or sewing, says Scotland’s textile craft community.

In a survey of 695 Scottish knitters, stitchers, weavers and embroiderers by the Campaign for Creativity, more than half (53.1%) say that crafting helps alleviate stress.

Nearly eight in ten (79.6%) feel relaxed and calm when knitting or sewing, and over a quarter (26.5%) say their hobby has helped them cope with anxiety. 52.9% feel uplifted and energised when they knit or sew, and a quarter (25.5%) say their craft hobby has helped them deal with depression.

For one in five (20.9%), textile crafting has aided recovery from a traumatic episode like bereavement or divorce.

Craft’s therapeutic benefits are social too. Two thirds (66.9%) of Scottish textile crafters have made new friends through their hobby and half (49.4%) say crafting has helped boost their confidence. Nearly six in ten (57.0%) have joined a craft-related club.

According to mental health charity MIND, one in four people experience a mental health problem each year.

The pursuit of purposeful, meaningful creative activities has been proven to have therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health and well-being.

The Campaign for Creativity is led by a group of leading UK textile artists, designers and craftspeople and The Knitting & Stitching Shows, the UK’s biggest events for the textile community, to inspire and encourage people of all ages and abilities to explore their creative side.

Event director for The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show at Edinburgh, Anna Baptiste, said: “We live increasingly connected lives with little time or opportunity to switch off. Taking time out to enjoy a satisfying, mindful craft activity can be hugely beneficial for people of all ages. It’s never too late to try something new.”

The Campaign for Creativity has also found that three quarters (75.8%) of art, craft and design subject teachers in the UK think that schools should provide more opportunities for children to be creative. Over half (57.2%) said that chances for children to be creative at school are declining.

Campaign for Creativity supporter Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director of The Embroiderers’ Guild, says: “Creativity is vital to child development, not only as a means of expression and communication but to support life skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking and resilience. Creative thinkers hold the key to the UK’s future success, not just in culture and the arts but across business and industry too. We must do all we can to ensure creative subjects are not sidelined in the education system.”

A campaign petition has been launched on change.org calling on Education Secretary Justine Greening to protect creative subjects in formal education – a move which could also improve child mental health. According to the Office of National Statistics[3], one in ten children aged 5-16 has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder.

The Campaign for Creativity is employing suitably creative methods to bring its message to life. Supporters are being asked to stitch signatures for a unique cloth petition which is travelling across the UK before being presented to the Education Secretary later this year. Stitched signatures can be made at or brought along to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show in Edinburgh from April 27-30 or sent to the campaign’s headquarters at the Campaign for Creativity, Twistedthread, 58 White Lion Street, London N1 9PP.

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show takes place from April 27-30, 2017, at the Highland Hall, Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh.