Co-design for wellbeing with mental health participants: from identifying a problem to creating prototypes

Renedo Illarregi, Erika; Alexiou, Katerina and Zamenopoulos, Theodore (2020). Co-design for wellbeing with mental health participants: from identifying a problem to creating prototypes. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Design4Health, Amsterdam, 2020. (Christer, Kirsty; Craig, Claire and Chamberlain, Paul eds.), Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 2 pp. 23–30.



The paper provides an overview of a co-design research project organized in collaboration with a mental health charity. Clients with mental health problems volunteered to help explore how engaging in design activities may impact them. Often adapted to respond promptly to the context, a series of workshops aimed to engage people with mental health problems in exploring matters of concern, defining issues and responding to these through design within a frame of layered participation. For 10 weeks, activities took place once a week for approximately 2 hours, although participants could drop in and out at any time. Four participants engaged quite consistently throughout the process, working with the researcher/facilitator. Under the general notion of co-designing for wellbeing, the project was organized around 5 stages, called 5 I’s: Identify, Ideate, Invent, Initiate and Implement. The project concluded with interviews, and an event to showcase the process and design outcomes to others. The paper discusses the challenges and opportunities that emerged in the process and provides a short summary of participants’ insights on their experiences. Their accounts variably suggested that the project helped with thinking, coping with loss or grief, reflecting on one’s past, or adversely prompting hidden anxieties. The paper ends by discussing how this experience may help inform future projects within mental health and reflects on the potential role of co-design as an activity that promotes recovery in its own right.

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