Reflections on mental health research in recognition of World Mental Health Day. 

Dr Rejoice Chipuriro
29th October 2023

Tuesday 10 October 2023 marked World Mental health day. This is a day to talk about mental health and show everyone that mental health matters. This year’s theme reminded how mental health is a universal human right however, some groups face more barriers to good mental health than others. In recognition of these barriers BU researcher Dr Rejoice Chipuriro collaborated with Vita Nova a creative arts organisation based in Boscombe. Asylum seekers will be supported by Vita Nova to co-produce drama and photography for public exhibition to connect with mental health service in community, as well as the public, to dispel stigma around mental health and marginalisation of asylum seekers. The photo exhibition will also be co-designed with asylum seekers as a way for participants to share about their lived experiences, and break taboos about mental health.

Many of our participants are asylum seekers drawn from a previous community health and wellbeing study who had trouble communicating because they speak English as a second or third language who struggled to convey in surveys complicated emotions and deeper feelings. As an interviewer, it was sometimes difficult to witness how deep-rooted asylum seeker’s inability to express their suffering could be. This led to contemplating performative arts and visual data collection methods such as drama and photography as research tools to enable asylum seekers to convey their mental and emotional state. The NIHR Clinical Research Network Wessex grant targeting communities under-served by research has enabled Bournemouth University and Vita Nova to conduct this critical work. The study will generate new insights into asylums seekers’ lived experiences with community based mental health care support services. 

It was timely that this year’s World Mental health day coincided with our final recruitment for the project seeking to understand asylums seekers’ lived experiences with community based mental health care support services. 

Recruitment faced some bits of challenges following uncertainties for asylum seekers. These uncertainties evoked many anxieties in the group which led to delays whilst staff at Vita Nova attended to their service users and potential study participants. 

Whilst we are uncertain of their Asylum application outcomes and status in the coming few months we will not be deterred in our recruitment. These uncertainties are a part of the daily lives of people seeking asylum and indicates the need for this research into their mental health and wellbeing,” remarked Dr Sharon Coyne.

Vita Nova seemed to provide that central point where people seeking asylum continued in their drama rehearsals and English language classes or creative writing. It also seemed like a space of support for asylum applicants under review and awaiting outcomes. Whilst the atmosphere was a bit sombre on this Tuesday, people still shared basic comforts of life such as banter over tea and toast. 

Rehearsals went on for the oncoming first autumn performance of “Hopefool” a play by asylum seekers and refugees showcased on 16th October as part of the Black history month.  New play staged by refugees to launch in Bournemouth | Bournemouth Echo

Meet the author(s)

Dr Rejoice Chipuriro

Post-Doctoral researcher
Rejoice is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Social Work and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University. Her research interests include participatory research with marginalised communities and community led organisations. Rejoice’s PhD articulated the lived experiences of elderly women farmers in resettled communities within Southern Africa, bringing to the fore these seldom heard voices. She previously managed projects under the human rights portfolio and international development cooperation for the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
View full profile
NCCDSW © 2024. All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy
Website Design Dorset - Good Design Works
Skip to content