Textile technology not only facilitates the global textile and fibre market, but can also help individuals suffering from mental health issues. A smart textiles project inspired by textile technology has been found to effectively lower anxiety levels for people with mental health conditions. The research project, led by Dr Sarah Kettley from Nottingham Trent University, in collaboration with the mental health charity Mind, aimed to ensure that those with mental health issues can be assisted by new textile technologies.
According to Nottingham Trent University, this £333,000 smart textile project used a psychological method known as the person-centred approach to engage with mental health patients. Instead of treating an individual from the perspective of them having a mental disease or deficit, the person-centred approach places trust in the patient, shows them empathy, unconditional positive regard, and treats them genuinely.
The project encourages individuals with mental health conditions to take part in smart textiles workshops, during which they learned to create their own smart textile garments, helping them to achieve better concentration, improve their confidence in a group setting, and reduce levels of anxiety.
With the help of textile technology, participants in the workshop have successfully developed several products, including fabric tilt switches that sense orientation, embroidered fabric sensors that complete an electrical circuit when stroked, and fabric push-button switches. Participants also engineered smart textile concepts such as light-up gloves, pocket anxiety monitoring devices, and a large sculptural display of Mind members’ levels of well-being.
“The aim of the research was to raise new questions about how e-textiles can be personalised and how they can empower people and help them express their creativity. In undertaking the research through the person-centred approach, we were able to see how participants experienced fewer symptoms of anxiety which also enabled them to become more involved in the project.” – Dr Kettley, a project leader and smart textiles expert from Nottingham Trent University.
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