REFLECT: understanding experiences of mental health in deprived coastal communities


  • University of Exeter

Project summary

During our research in a deprived seaside town after a spate of suicides, people expressed a need for a deeper understanding of how mental health can be affected by living by the sea. Research shows that blue spaces have mental health benefits, but lived experiences often go against this with the sea being seen as cruel and becoming the site of the most final of mental health outcomes.

We will tell the stories of people who live by the sea who are having mental health treatment. We will weave these stories – using words, music and visual art – into a tapestry of emotional experience. The installations co-created by local people from Bude in Cornwall will be taken to Newhaven in East Sussex to test whether a new understanding of mental health and the sea translates to a different location. 

The people involved often feel forgotten next to their urban counterparts and we aim to empower them and give voice to their experiences. We hope that their insights will inspire health research projects.