Film and exhibition to focus on psychology team's skate park project

Psychology lecturers at UHI Inverness spent some of their summer break at the city’s skate park exploring the beneficial impact of skateboarding, and the project has produced an arts exhibition and a short film that will go on show this month.

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This photograph of Aaron Jolly was taken by Matt Sillars during one of the engagement sessions.

The UHI Inverness psychology team collaborated with the Highland Skate Parks Association and held three summer engagement sessions with skaters. The team applied to the Knowledge Exchange Challenge Fund to fund the activities which helped build trust with the skating community in preparation for future research on the impact of the pastime on their mental health and wellbeing.

During the sessions photographs were taken by Shona Graham-Taylor, Rhys Campbell and Matt Sillars of The Inverness Community Darkroom. A poetry writing workshop was also led by published poet, Cáit O’Neill McCullagh.

The photographs and poems will be displayed at UHI Inverness in the ‘A Different Gravitation: Exhibition of Summer Engagement Project’ in the Learning Resource Centre on campus from the 2 October to 10 November as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

As part of the same festival, and to mark World Mental Health Day, UHI Inverness, Highland Sakte Parks Association, Creativity in Care and Mikeysline will screen a series of film shorts on 15 October between 3pm to 5pm, at Eden Court in Inverness.

The films focus on skateboarding and mental health and include ‘A Different Gravitation’, a film short on the summer photography and poetry collaboration at the skate park.

Another of the films, ‘A Land for Everyone’, follows former psychology student Hannah Bailey and Lyndsay McLaren on the winding roads of Torridon.

After the screening there will be a question-and-answer session about skate park use, physical activity and mental health. It will feature discussion panel members Sarah Fielding, a trustee of charity Mickeysline, and Dr Paul O'Connor, senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and author of Skateboarding and Religion.

Psychology lecturer Mari Todd said: “We ran the summer engagement project at the skate park as a way of building relationships between the users and our team, in the hope that we can work together in the future to research the benefits of skate park use for mental health and wellbeing. We hope that any research we do will be able to support the association’s search for a premises to create an indoor skatepark within Inverness.

"We found the whole skate community locally and internationally to be hugely welcoming. It has been inspiring to see how much work is going on to promote mental health amongst the skate community. The Ben Raemer's Foundation has been really helpful in giving us permission to use their SMiLe films to promote discussions around mental health. It has also been really exciting to learn about the link between skating as an activity and recovery from trauma which is highlighted in the Why so Sad? film. This link between skating and wellbeing makes this a great collaboration with the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. We are really grateful to everyone who has been so generous in their time and support with this project.

“It is also great to be able to feature a film created by one of our former psychology students, photographer, environmentalist and skater Hannah Bailey, whose film A Land for Everyone encourages people to get out and skate and or explore, engage with and protect our natural environment.”

Mari added that the team plans to run an online survey exploring skatepark use, identity, belonging and mental health in the hope that this will be a first step in continuing the relationship with the skateboarding community.

The film shorts being show at Eden Court also include:

  • Windows of Reality: A four-minute film sharing mental health experiences, told through puppets.
  • Smile Interview John Rattray: Scottish skate legend John Rattray opens up about his life in skateboarding and the mental health challenges he faced.
  • Why so Sad?: An exploration of how skating can be beneficial for mental health and trauma recovery.
  • Not a Burden: A spoken word poem filmed in local settings and developed by Mikesyline to highlight mental health and wellbeing.

To buy tickets to the screening visit: A Different Gravitation: Mental Wellbeing and Skateboarding | Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival ( or Cinema | Eden Court (