International Conference Culture & Mental Health

International Conference Culture & Mental Health

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The Dr. Guislain Museum and Iedereen Leest team up to deliver the International Conference Culture & Mental Health on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November 2022.

Datum donderdag 24 tot vrijdag 25 november 2022
Locatie Ghent Toon op kaart
Organisator Dr. Guislain Museum & Iedereen Leest in samenwerking met de Universiteit Gent (Vakgroep Sociaal Werk en Sociale Pedagogiek), University College London (Arts and Science) en de Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent.

Gezien de internationale context van deze conferentie staat deze aankondiging en het programma in het Engels. De voertaal op de conferentie is het Engels.

Conference aim

The International Conference Culture & Mental Health 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 wellbeing 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 wellbeing, but can also prevent certain mental and physical complaints. This conference wants to bring together individuals from the public, academia, and third sector, to share experiences, practices and knowledge about the importance and impact of the arts, literature, heritage and creativity on improving mental health, wellbeing and resilience.

Organised in a symbolic venue

The Dr. Guislain Museum is an obvious choice as a venue for this conference. Housed in the oldest 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’. The Dr. Guislain Museum is, as a museum on psychiatry, a place where past and present meet. The Dr. Guislain Museum is a lieu de mémoire and a  laboratory, a museum ‘in psychiatry’ where experiment is key, where issues on metal wellbeing and illness are questioned and the complexity of the human psyche is revealed through testimonies, documents and records, art and photography. The Dr. Guislain Museum teams up with Iedereen Leest (Everybody Reads) for this international conference. Iedereen Leest wants to inspire people to read (more). Being able to read is of absolute importance for personal development and wellbeing and participation in society. Iedereen Leest highlights the crucial role of reading for pleasure in the literacy discourse.

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

Preconference events on 23 November

On 23 November, the Dr. Guislain Museum and Iedereen Leest organise 3 events as preconference.

The last decade there’s with researchers and policy makers a renewed interest in public libraries as an essential public good and as physical places that shape the way people interact. Described by the American sociologist Eric Klinenberg as social infrastructure in his book Palaces for the People. The symposium Libraries and Resilience discusses the value of public libraries as social infrastructure for supporting people with mental health problems. With Rianne van Melik (Radboud University), Gemma Jolly (The Reading Agency) and Tom Vansteenkiste (Recovery Academy Antwerp).

13h – 15h, Belvedère Ghent University Library’s Book Tower

The panel discussion Connected Materials wants to reflect on the challenges connected to socially engaged art projects. Artist and researcher Claire Wellesley-Smith, the curator of the exhibition Connected Materials, will moderate a panel with Bart Marius, artistic director Dr. Guislain Museum and Nadia Babazia, Public engagement Red Star Line Museum.

17h – 18h30, Museum Dr. Guislain

Vernissage of Connected Materials, an exhibition that celebrates multiple ways of collective making and was curated as part of the conference. More info about the exhibition.

19h – 20h, Museum Dr. Guislain

 Conference programme

Our conference programme is the result of a call for papers and workshops that was reviewed by a programme committee. We have designed a divers and rich programme that covers a broad spectrum ranging from research projects to case studies. On top of this we’ve scheduled interesting keynote speakers for the plenary sessions.

Discover the conference programme 


The preconference events on 23 November are free, but registration is obligatory.

Conference day 1 OR day 2: €85 (general), €65 (students*)
Full ticket (2 days): €160 (general), €120 (students*)
Conference dinner at the end of day 1 (24 Nov): €40

* Students will have to verify through student number/card.

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