Sex and Drugs and Rock and Health, is an online project founded by Mark Burns. The website aims to help professionals use popular culture as a health education tool, to help them engage and consult with hard to reach groups, and train local people to use popular culture as an educational tool in their own communities.

Mark Burns, who launched the website in 2008, is a freelance arts and health worker in the North East, with a background in public health. He is particularly interested in engaging ‘hard to reach’ groups regarding health issues, by employing the use of popular culture.

He has developed an innovative approach that first uses social marketing research to establish the interests of target groups, and then shows how to link these to health.

Mark’s approach includes subjects such as pop music, comedy, fashion, cross words, comics, magazines, romantic novels, football and computer games. The project also has a sister site that is about emotional wellbeing and pop music.

The unique spin off site links to pop songs and lyric websites under topics such as self esteem and assertiveness. Sex and drugs and rock and health is also innovative, being the only project in the world that unites the use of art, sport and computer games to promote popular culture for health.

The site is aimed at health workers as well as people who use art, games or sport as health tools. It requires no funding, meaning the project can run indefinitely.

So far, Mark Burns has been asked to speak about the approach at a number of professional events for arts and health in both the UK and the USA. The website has also become part of the curriculum of an arts and health course curriculum at an Australian university. The project has received national press coverage in The Guardian.

In the future, Mark hopes to secure funding to action a music festival based around songs that promote mental and physical wellbeing. He is also hoping to create a project that uses music, drama and comedy to engage people in exploring successful relationships.

Finally, Mark is interested in creating a project that encourages NHS Foundation Trusts to meet their requirement in becoming a mass membership community focused organisation, by using popular culture as an engagement and educational tool.