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

Cole, Fiona and Christie, Mark ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4246-0895 (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 (Unpublished)

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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)
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Departments: Academic Departments > Health, Psychology & Social Studies (HPSS) > Rehabilitation
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 12:30
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 16:00
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/2593


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