Evaluation of indoor horticulture to support the mental health and wellbeing of neurodivergent communities

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr Jackie Casey  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

People who have Autism, ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia are often referred to as being neurodivergent. This refers to their brain being wired differently from the mainstream population of individuals, affecting their ability to participate in activities or interact with others in the community. This population of people are subsequently often marginalised and experience exclusion, mental health and wellbeing problems.

This innovative PhD project combines the therapeutic evidence for horticulture and social farming on mental health to examine the role for indoor horticulture therapy to support the wellbeing of neurodivergent communities.

Using the novel, soil-less, hydroponic method of horticulture carried out in a greenhouse this mixed methods research project will build a network of neurodivergent individuals, families, service providers, and caregivers to experience an indoor horticulture programme. A series of workshops will be co-produced with persons from the neurodivergent community and their caregivers. The purpose will be to introduce participants to this type of horticulture to promote mental health and wellbeing and provide the opportunity for social inclusion and community participation. This research study will then evaluate the effectiveness of this intervention and any impact it has upon these neurodivergent individuals from both the individual and their caregiver perspectives.  

Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27)


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5. Geary et al. Ambient greenness, access to local green spaces, and subsequent mental health: a 10-year longitudinal dynamic panel study of 2·3 million adults in Wales. Lancet Planet Health (2023); 7: e809–18. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(23)00212-7
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7. Cipriani, J., Benz, A., Holmgren, A., Kinter, D., McGarry, J., & Rufino, G. A systematic review of the effects of horticultural therapy on persons with mental health conditions, Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. , (2017).33(1), 47-69. doi: 10.1080/0164212X.2016.1231602
8. https://www.bps.org.uk/psychologist/cultivating-wellbeing-and-mental-health-through-gardening.
9. Torquati et al. Social farming and work inclusion initiatives for adults with autism spectrum disorders: A pilot study, NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, (2019), 88, 10-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2019.02.001
10. Black, M.E. Designing a program to build, support and harvest a smart aeroponic vertical indoor garden (SAVInG) with students with disabilities at a special education school. Acta Hortic. (2021) 1330, 99-114. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.12
11. https://amhydro.com/qa-hydroponic-farmer-interview-humans-of-hydroponics-wendie-blanchard/
12. https://verticalharvestfarms.com/

 About the Project