Nick Bell Design


Early-stage innovation centred on making for youth mental health

While the use of making in participatory co-design is common, I argue for the benefits that making-led participatory co-design can bring to two fields where its use is rare: early-stage innovation and mental health. I draw evidence from my situated cooperation with service users and providers of a regional UK mental health trust. The motivation for this action-research was twofold: to envision a better youth mental health service, and to explore how primary and secondary schools can practice mental health prevention. I observed that where there was an absence of co-making in a researcher's stakeholder engagements, communicative exchanges became heavily verbal, and this increased the relational intensity between actors. As a result, the discussion of service user experiences – coping with mental health conditions and the struggle to access mental health services – became more challenging for contributors. By contrast, stakeholder engagements driven by co-making transcended the verbal. Making brought a level of informality that enabled participants to lighten relational intensity, soften professional/cultural boundaries, and open up to each other. Read more...


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