Arts therapies use different art forms and creative activities to help people living with mental illness. These art forms include music therapy, dance-movement therapy and art therapy. They are usually provided in regular group meetings over the period of a few months.

Arts therapies may help patients to express emotions and to have experiences that might not be possible in talking therapies alone. Different people prefer different art forms. If patients can choose which art form they like best, they may be more likely to attend and benefit from this.

While arts therapies are popular with many patients, they are not always provided in NHS services. So far, there has been little research to conclusively show that they are helpful. Existing research has involved people with the same diagnosis (such as schizophrenia). The ERA study will involve people with a range of different diagnoses. This is to reflect more closely what would happen in practice.