Exploring community inclusion, health and wellbeing for people with lived experience
of mental illness

The Imagining Inclusion Project

Imagining Inclusion was a Vancouver research project with two phases (2013-2015 and 2016-2019)
that focused on discovering the reality of people with lived experience of mental illness and
factors that contributed to community inclusion, health and wellbeing.

Imagining Inclusion was a collaboration between Douglas College, Open Door Group and York University.
The Vancouver Foundation provided funding for the project and Vancouver Coastal Health was our project partner.

Project Phase 1

From 2013 to 2015, we explored experiences of community inclusion for people with lived experience of mental illness. Through collaborative involvement of research participants, we developed two models based on their individual, community and societal experiences.

Project Phase 2

From 2016 to 2019, we explored lived experience of mental illness using the two models developed in Phase 1 to facilitate organizational change within community mental health system as well as using peer leadership in all project activities. 


Photovoice is a method that allows participants to visually capture their thoughts by taking photos about their experience and speaking about how it relates to themselves, community and society. How does a person with lived experience of mental illness experience themselves, their community, and their society?


This is my heart
with band-aids on it.
All of my life I have been trapped
and hiding, not trusting enough
to go outside and look for opportunities. I am so exhausted and unhappy.


I have lived in smaller and less inviting places. The very high rent in Vancouver is not affordable to most. When I was working I found a nice place to live but it is being torn down for new condos. This is Vancouver’s new affordable housing, it’s about as close as I’ll get.


There are times when I do not feel like doing anything, even putting a video on and vegging out in front of it. It’s isolating, a lot of hours stuck at home surrounded by books and movies, but not wanting to engage in my surroundings.

Learn more about the project and
download resources

Explore our project models, programs, and guides to help you understand our project and learn how it applies to improving community mental health.