Home » Cultural prescriptions for burnout. An overview of the pilot project

Burnout: An outcome of a stressful life and work-related activities

Burnout is a serious condition that affects more and more people. The  Mental Health America (MHA) in a study conducted in July 2020 reported that 75% of workers have experienced burnout, and 40% of those polled said it was a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A pilot project of cultural prescriptions for burnout in Cluj-Napoca

Cultural Prescriptions is a type of initiative that encourages people who deal with different medical conditions to overcome their negative states and to improve their health and well-being by using arts. Various models of cultural prescriptions were successfully tested in other countries, such as the UK. During the autumn of 2020, the Cluj Cultural Centre implemented a pilot of cultural prescriptions, offering participation in a series of specially designed creative workshops to a group of people with burnout symptoms.

Project design and implementation

The creative workshops design was the result of the collaboration between experts and researchers from the fields of arts and health. The creative activities were delivered by a team of artists from Create.Act.Enjoy.

Built on practical exercises using various artistic techniques, the workshops aimed to contribute to the development of imagination and emotional intelligence, stimulate the ability to express, reduce anxiety and cultivate self-esteem with the final purpose to help people overcome their burnout with time.

It was a theme I enjoyed very much when working with the participants and trying to rediscover how joy, fear and anger truly looks like and accept the fact that we need all this range in our life even if we call some of them negative emotions. To reach balance at a certain point one needs to experiment with all of these.

Diana Buluga

Actress and workshop facilitator

The results: Creativity boost and decreased burnout rates

Throughout the 7 sessions of the workshop but also by doing their homework, the participants took part in all sorts of art exercises, such as acting, improvising, dancing, listening to music, drawing, etc. They were even able to transpose in their daily routines some of the techniques they learned, in order to benefit from the positive outcomes of the intervention. Read more about the creative results of the artistic intervention here.

I became a lot braver, I can talk freely, it helped me in my work, with my focus, it made me want to socialize more. After a period without socializing I really needed this sort of push

Bogdan Gavril

Workshop participant

The impact of the artistic intervention on participants’ well-being was measured through quantitative and qualitative techniques by a team of researchers. The project results provide know-how and insights for a methodology to measure the impact of arts on burnout rates and on well-being. Overall, the findings demonstrated that art can potentially decrease burnout rates, increase well-being and inspire people to develop their creative potential. Read more about the project results here.

Long term thoughts

The entire experience of cultural prescriptions for burnout was an opportunity for artists and researchers to work together and co-design a programme that is eventually provided to more and more people in order to increase their quality of life. Art has the potential to influence our well-being and these results will be used as an argument for scaling up this type of initiative.

Our long-term purpose is to transform this experiment into a public policy. In countries such as Sweden or Finland these projects already exist as a public policy through which the Ministry of Public Health finances cultural or sport projects that help people to secure a good quality of life

Rarița Zbranca

Programme Director Cluj Cultural Centre

The cultural prescriptions pilot project was implemented under the european project Art and Well-being, which explores the relationship between art and well-being. The Art and Well-being project is supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.