The Guardian

The culture cure: how prescription art is lifting people out of depression| Helen Russell

From singing together to being read to in a library, an arts participation scheme is transforming lives in Denmark
Exposed to culture: Jonas Thrysøe and Evy Mortensen with course leader Mikael Odder Nielsen, right. Photograph: Kristian Fæste/The Guardian

In a whitewashed studio in northern Denmark, 11 unemployed strangers are embarking on a hearty rendition of Yellow Submarine. Jonas Thrysøe is not one of them. At least, not yet. The 36-year-old has agoraphobia, rarely leaves the house and can’t think of anything worse than a group singalong. And yet by the second chorus he is putty in the choirmaster’s hands. “I swore I’d just stand at the back and listen,” he says. “But the mood was infectious.”

Out of work and in his second year of sick leave because of anxiety and panic attacks, Thrysøe had become isolated. “I’d avoid situations where I thought I’d get anxious, until I ended up avoiding all situations. It was a vicious circle,” he says.

With a master’s degree in European studies, Thrysøe had dreamed of a career in Brussels or the Danish government.

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