Aesthetics in Mental Health Network (AiMH)

Aesthetics in Mental Health Network (AiMH)

Network Leads

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.

AiMH Meetings

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.

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

Call for Participants

New research on developing arts practice-based ways of enhancing reflection on empathic understanding in health care education. Helena Fox (Co-Lead of the Aesthetics in Mental Health [AiMH]) Network is looking for students or practitioners from any area of health or social care to help with her zoom-based research. The study now has ethics approval.

Click here for further information

Quick Links

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Contact Us

If you have any ideas, suggestions or queries or would like further information please contact us

WikiVBP Reference Library

The wikiVBP Reference Library aims to provide a focused resource of literature and other materials supporting training, research and policy developments in values-based practice.

Please Click Here to go to the library

Key Areas of Collaboration

Core activities of the Centre are based around three inter-linked areas, Education, Regulation and Integration, together with crosscutting themes of Theory and Practice

Read More about Key Areas of Collaboration

Values Based Social Care

We are delighted to collaborate with MASIS on a social model of care as the key link between health and social care.

Read More about Values-based Social Care

Values-based Surgical Care

Values-based practice in surgery is an innovative approach to decision making in surgery, linking science with people.


To read more please Click Here

Training Materials and Resources

The CUP Book Series

Cambridge University Press has a VBP book series.

Click here to find out more