Objectives: To examine the experiences of mental health service users who took part in an arts-based programme at Tate Modern, a major London art gallery. Study design: Exploratory qualitative design. Methods: Data were collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews with 10 mental health service users who had taken part in a community-based programme at Tate Modern. Additionally, six art educators from Tate Modern were interviewed. Concepts that emerged from the text were identified using thematic analysis. Results: All participants valued the gallery-based programme. The three overarching thematic areas were: the symbolic and physical context in which the programme workshops were located; the relational and social context of the programme workshops; and reflections on the relationship between the arts-based programme and subsequent mental health. Conclusions: Art galleries are increasingly seen to function as vehicles for popular education with mental health service users. This study adds to the growing body of evidence related to how mental health service users experience and reflect on arts-related programmes targeted at them. This study indicates that emphasis on how users experience gallery-based programmes may contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between art and mental health.
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