About the project

Who are we?

We are a team of people interested in understanding better how people with mental illness, and particularly severe mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other disorders with psychosis, relate to and experience natural outdoor spaces - also known as ‘green and blue’ spaces (see definition below). Also what stands in the way of and what helps this population in accessing these spaces. Our group is composed of a number of neuro-diverse individuals with lived experience of, or who care for people with, SMI, living in Yorkshire and the North-East of the UK. There is also a participatory filmmaker and researcher, a project manager, a clinical research psychologist from Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust plus researchers from across several units (the Department of Health Sciences and the School of Arts and Creative Technologies) at the University of York.

What are green and blue spaces?

  • Spaces that are ‘green’ are those that contain vegetation – trees, plants, grasses etc.

  • Spaces that are ‘blue’ are those that contain water in some shape or form – from the seaside to a small pond, and from a broad river to a narrow stream.

What is participatory filmmaking?

Participatory filmmaking is a practice where members of the public work with a facilitator to explore an issue close to their lived experience and to authentically express their views through storytelling using the medium of film. Sometimes the filming is done in the individual’s own time, using their own device - for instance a smartphone, tablet or digital camera - and sometimes as a group at a mutually agreed location with different people taking on the roles of actor/director/cameraman.

The practice has been applied to mental health as a research method to better understand experiences of mental illness and recovery and as a way of engaging external audiences with a subject through the films and artefacts produced as part of the process. In fact, participatory filmmaking allows participants to become authors who can articulate their own experiences through film and, consequently, produce highly personalised and authentic accounts of mental health and illness. The content, style, and length of the film depends on the participants’ preferences, there is no pre-defined format.