Aesthetics in Mental Health Network (AiMH)



  • Dr Helena Fox – Consultant Psychiatrist, Nightingale Hospital, London; Doctoral student, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

  • Professor Michael Musalek – Professor of Psychiatry, University of Vienna; Head of the Institute for Social Aesthetics and Mental Health, Sigmund Freud University, Vienna; and General medical Director, Anton Proksch Institute, Vienna

  • Professor Martin Poltrum – Professor of Psychotherapy Science at the Sigmund Freud University, Vienna; Deputy Head of the Institute for Social Aesthetics and Mental Health, Sigmund Freud University, Vienna; and Vice President of the European Society of Aesthetics and Medicine

Background and aims

Medicine is replete with emotive images and processes. These occur in everyday practice, from small day-to-day interactions as well as more pronounced issues of life and death. People immersed in healthcare environments can be deeply moved and respond in aesthetic ways.

What do we mean by the word ‘aesthetic’?  In contemporary use, ‘aesthetic’ usually means ‘of or referring to the beautiful’. Here, the meaning of the word ‘aesthetic’ is derived from its Greek origin and refers to sensory perception and imagination arising out of experiential participation and imaginative engagement.

All groups concerned with healthcare – service users, service providers and those working at an organisational level – share experiences of encounters with each other and with their environments. Developing an aesthetic awareness in and through such encounters may enhance reflection on values and steer thoughtful, empathic care-giving to re-humanise practice. This is nowhere more important than in the context of mental healthcare.

Aesthetics in Mental Health (AiMH) is a lively new trans-disciplinary network that seeks to extend and enhance aesthetic responsiveness in the context of healthcare and thus to improve mental health and wellbeing among both service users and service providers


Arising from the concluding discussion in our first meeting the AiMH Network has the following objectives:

  • Bring people together to explore, share and define experiences of working in an aesthetic mode in relation to mental wellbeing and health.
  • Develop ideas that broaden knowledge about the complexities of subjective human experience through deeper sensory connection with self, each other, community and environment in the clinic.
  • Create a more integrated approach to understanding by going beyond what words alone can say and develop thinking that is full of experience and tacit knowledge. There will be an emphasis on knowledge that arises from practice.
  • Provide a forum for an unfolding of ideas and exchange of experience, questions, reflection and new insights into how working with aesthetic awareness may aid deeper understandings about delivering healthcare in an empathic, attuned, connective and values-based way.
  • Provide opportunities for developing future collaborations.


We seek to advance these objectives through networking and with regular meetings to share developing ideas and experience.

We hold Advanced Study Days and larger conferences every 1-2 years between the Institute for Social Aesthetics of the Sigmund Freud University, Vienna, and the Collaborating Centre for Values-Based Practice, St Catherine’s College, Oxford.

AiMH Meetings

For further details please click here


The AiMH Network was set up to act as a focus for the growing number of people and groups drawing in different ways on aesthetics in mental health. Network members are working in a variety of trans-disciplinary ways between the arts and humanities that raise aesthetic awareness in the clinic.

The Network seeks to build strong links between theory and practice. Members include academics and both service users and service providers. Although based in the UK and Austria our members come from many other parts of the world representing a wide variety of both research and service development projects.

List of Members

For a list of current members please click here

Joining AiMH 

If you are interested in joining the Network please contact us