Digital craft and mental health

In 2018 we undertook a small study with the University of Exeter’s Smartline project, to see if digital craft sessions improved the wellbeing of participants. This research was overseen by Dr Andrew James Williams, a public health researcher at the University, and undertaken by Aaron Moore, at the training hub of CNC Craft.  A number of digital craft workshops were held with participants from the Inspiring Women’s Network, the Trelya Community Center, and members of the Maker Space Community.

We designed a questionnaire to explore 6 key feelings. These were feeling; happy, hopeful, skilful, confident, healthy and included. Before and after the training session participants were asked to score their feelings out of five. The questionnaire scores were then compared and analysed.

The Results of the study

Before the CNC Craft training sessions, only 24% of participants rated their feeling of skilfulness as 4 or 5 out of 5, and only 35% rated their confidence at this level. These increased to 71% and 76% after the training session. While the percentage of participants rating their sense of hopefulness as a 4 or 5 out of 5 rose from 53% to 100%. The results also indicate that these training sessions are accessible for those who are more or less confident with computers.

Analysis showed that the average scores for each of the six attributes increased following our training session, with feelings of skilfulness and confidence increasing most. While all the participants surveyed rated their enjoyment of the training as a 4 or 5 out of 5.

The results give a sense that the digital craft sessions run at CNC Craft do have a positive impact in participants lives.

So, not only is making things locally good for the environment and the community it is also good for the mind.

A massive thank you to all those who took part.

The Smartline project was supported by the European Regional Development Fund

Fab Lab Conference Montreal, 2021

Every year the Fab Lab network comes together for an international conference to celebrate and publicize the work of over 2000 Fab Labs around the world. ‘Involving government officials, academic researchers, and experts in the field of digital fabrication, to present, envision, discuss, and build community around digital fabrication, technology, and innovation’. In 2021 the event was held on line, from Montreal, Canada.
We were invited to submit a paper for the conference in Montreal. The paper entitled ‘The effects on wellbeing of participating in digital fabrication sessions’ written by, Dr Andrew Williams of St. Andrews University,  Emma Bland from the University of Exeter, and  Aaron Moore was accepted and presented at the FAB 16 conference. 

In a nutshell the paper explores the role of participating in digital fabrication or digital craft sessions in improving wellbeing, particularly for those from disadvantaged groups. It describes how, with the help of the University of Exeters’ Smartline Project, the data was collected and analyzed and how the results were interpreted. Effectively the study  shows that there is a statistically significant improvement in well being among everybody who participated. 

A full version of the paper can be downloaded from here.

We are looking forward to doing more work in this area, perhaps even getting involved with social prescribing initiatives. If anyone is interested in learning more or getting involved in ongoing research please get in touch.

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