Mental health problems are leading causes for early and prolonged withdrawal from the workforce. Green work on care farms represents a prevocational training program intended to stimulate return to work for people with mental health problems. Research suggests that care farms may improve mental health, but there is still little knowledge of the subjective perspective of clients in green work programs.
To gain a deeper and broader understanding of the individual experiences of people with mental health problems participating in green work on care farms in Norway.
A hermeneutic phenomenological research design was applied. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted. The self-determination theory (SDT) was adapted to gain a deeper understanding of the themes that emerged in the analysis process of the interviews.
Five main themes materialize describing participants' experiences within the green work program. The main themes consist of (1) structure and flexibility, (2) understanding and acknowledgement, (3) guidance and positive feedback, (4) nature and animals, and (5) reflections on personal functioning and the future.
The main themes identified indicate a high degree of autonomy support and need satisfaction within the care farm context, which according to SDT can facilitate good human functioning, and well-being.