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Funding success for collaborative music-wellbeing investigation

Posted on 10 March 2021

Caroline Waddington-Jones has secured a grant from the UKRI-funded Closing the Gap network run by the University of York and Hull York Medical School.

Together with Anna Bramwell-Dicks from the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media, she will work on a project called 'Collaborative Creative Sound-making: Promoting Physical Activity And Social Connectedness For Adults With Severe Mental Illness'.

Social connectedness is an important part of wellbeing for adults with severe mental illness, but social isolation and loneliness disproportionately affect these individuals. The value of social connectedness has been further highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, as social distancing measures and periods of lockdown seem likely to have resulted in high levels of anxiety and depression among adults with severe mental illness as well as reduced access to support.

Many studies have demonstrated that group music-making (ie playing, singing, improvising, or composing together) strengthens social connectedness and empowers participants; however, research has yet to explore the motivations of people with severe mental illness for joint musical participation and creativity, or to identify and address key challenges and barriers to participation.

This research project will therefore, 1) explore the lived experiences of people with severe mental illness to identify motivations for and barriers to engaging in group creativity through sound/music-making; 2) work with adults with severe mental illness and music facilitators to design and create a video prototype for a collaborative sound/music-making system with supporting mobile App that can be used synchronously or asynchronously.

We hope that this technology will have a significant impact for people with severe mental illness, strengthening existing relationships as well as bringing together new creative communities.