Occupational engagement in a woodland: belonging and wellbeing for mental health

Cole, Fiona and Christie, Mark (2016) Occupational engagement in a woodland: belonging and wellbeing for mental health. In: College of Occupational Therapists 40th annual conference and exhibition, 28-30 June 2016, Harrogate, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Introduction: Extensive evidence supports the value of
horticulture, green exercise and the influence of nature on
wellbeing (Fieldhouse & Sempik 2014) but some people in
mental health recovery may not regard formal and structured services as accessible. In contrast, this study was set in an informal rural centre offering conservation and horticultural activities. The research purpose was to explore participants’ perceptions of this unique socio-cultural and physical environment and its impact on occupational engagement. Method: An ethnographic approach (Hammersley & Atkinson 2007) enabled exploration of the centre’s culture and the experiences of its volunteers. Researching as outsiders on participants would not be congruent with its empowering and flexible ethos. Hence, our immersion in the physical and social activities enabled live conversations with participants and we contributed to the practical work there. Transcribed
interview data were analysed thematically (Braun & Clarke
2006). Member-checking of the preliminary findings will be
offered at an informal workshop to invite participant comments and feedback for incorporation into the final analysis and dissemination.
Discussion: Preliminary analysis indicates key themes of
belonging, of being valued and respected. Additionally, the
centre’s informality allowed flexibility in attendance, and the
support of co-volunteers and the woodland owners were
significant in maintaining involvement. Opportunities to use
existing skills and develop new ones demonstrated the power of occupation in enhancing feelings of enjoyment, achievement and connection. The importance of the physical and social environments in facilitating engagement and contributing to wellbeing were paramount.
Conclusion: Recognition of the influence of the context and
structure of services on people’s ability to engage in therapeutic activities is crucial in order to enable individuals to access support in their mental health recovery.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URL(s):
Departments: Faculty of Health and Science > Rehabilitation and Social Work > Rehabilitation
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 12:30
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2017 13:58
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/2593

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