5_Pain is all a perception.

Life of a design student.

Peter a 24 year old, BVisComm student at UTS was asked a series of questions to see his understanding of Mental health and how he was dealing with his own mental health during the stresses of university.

What comes to mind when you think of mental health?
When I think of mental health, I think of it being a fine line between rational decision making and the sheer notion of just being able to think independently.

How would you describe it?
As an issue that affects the way people think and act accordingly, mental strains are a cause of these actions.

What would you classify as a serious mental issue?
I would classify something as a serious issue when somebody needs attention several times in a day, or if they don’t have the ability to take on new ideas and change for the better.

Do you think your mental state is more physically or mentally affected?
I think that it’s a mixture of both, even though I wasn’t born with any health problems, there are more factors to consider than just being affected and that is just the way you are in general. Instead I believe that mental state in general is diversified between the two.

How aware of mental health issues are you and what do you know?
I’m fairly aware of mental health and their issues. As a person who doesn’t deal with mental health issues, I know just as much as I see on the news and what I hear in conversation.

Has there ever been a time where you were able to tell your environment was affecting your mood?
Definitely. Yes.

Who did you talk to when you felt this way or did you deal with it yourself?
Talked to my mates when I ever get the chance, other than that I would usually keep it to myself.

What kind of pressures do you have in your life?
I wouldn’t say pressure, but the stresses are a lot. University, internship, work, gym. The pressures of excelling in those however is high.

What ratio would you say is pressure you put on yourself vs out of your control?
I probably put pressure on myself for my internship and work, which is a ratio of 4:3 days of the week. Nothing as yet has been out of my control.

When faced with the same problem are you better able to deal with it mentally or do you consciously have to make a decision to?
I’m able to deal with it mentally but if the workloads get too high or stressful, I sit down and think until I’m comfortable with the track I’m taking.

What do you use as coping mechanisms for dealing with these feelings?
If I’m stressed out or pressured. Ill take some time alone. Listen to some music or go for a quiet drive somewhere. Something to ease the attention.

Who is the first person you’d go to if you felt this way?
I would honestly probably keep it to myself or go to my sister.

How do you think people could be more aware of mental health?
By being more considerate of others. If people just opened their eyes and realised just how fortunate they are, then the awareness turn into appreciation, and we wouldn’t have a constant problem when trying to help people with mental health conditions.

What do you think could be done to educate people more?
More awareness through everyday activity.  I feel like the only way a person will become more educated is learning first hand. Learning from someone who personally had to deal with those issues is both beneficial and insightful, and its exactly what we need if we want out awareness levels to increase. In terms of education, I think there’s already resources available.  Its the way we deliver those resources that will prove to be the difference.

Probing for change.

The task that was created for the probe was to find as many different uses for a brick (ie. it can be used to write but you can also use it to dig a hole). First without any priming, followed by questions about feeling towards the task and then again after meditating for 5mins, followed by the same questions with a added task of constructing a card house.


Before the test:

What would you say your stress is like now?

how do you feel?
Happy, but stressful and also rushed.

List of possibilities:
_Door stop
_break to make concrete
_create a texture of artwork
_paper weight
_throw at someone
_break a door handle
_scratch something

How difficult did you find the task 1-10, what did you find so difficult about it?

How did you feel during this task, what emotions did you have specifically?
Curious and stressed because what kind of I was giving.


Before the test (Second round):

The test subject was ask to go away and meditate for 5 mins, then return to the testing bench.

What would you say your stress is like now?

how do you feel?
relaxed, ready, energized the stress is still there but I feel ready for it.

List of possibilities:
(while constructing a card house)
_holding a door
_stopping a car
_scratch something

How difficult did you find the task 1-10, what did you find so difficult about it?

How did you feel during this task, what emotions did you have specifically?
Ready, the task got harder as you progressed through it.

What did you feel was different from the first task?
Under less pressure then the first time, more alert and relax. I felt I had more to give the second time over the first.

Lessons learnt.

The task that I gave to my test subject (Peter) was a stressful creative task in coming up with uses for a brick to be used in different ways then for it’s intended purpose. Peter found the first task with just coming up with uses for a “brick” quite difficult, but he found it enjoyable and challenging to think creatively.

After Peter returned from the 5 min meditation, he felt more prepared and capable to take on the task at hand and it showed in the results of the test being about to come up with one more use even though he was asked to perform a extra task for the exercise. This result was surprising as the task had become more challenging, however he was able to perform better with less perceived stress. Peter’s stress level when from a level 7 to a level 5 with just meditation and even though his perception of the task stay the same the tasks difficulty had dramatically been increased, on top of this his performance in the task had improved.

The reason for orienting that task the way I did was to first get a baseline of a individuals stress level and to see if meditation was helpful but also to see how much of a impact stress had on the task at hand. The task had achieved all the ideas I was trying to confirmed, but out of the task it was also observed that the perception of the tasks difficulty can have a dramatic effect on the difficulty of the task.

The probe had been very successful in achieving conformation of the effectiveness of meditation but also the insight of how perception plays a giant role in the way we interpret stress and the difficulty of tasks we face. For future test, I would refine the testing parameters to help remove inconsistency such as difficulty of task, making sure enough variance between tasks so the individual doesn’t have the ability to use previous knowledge ie. different objects to come up with uses for.

Things to improve.

  • Improved consistency of testing.
  • Guided meditation so as it removes variance.
  • Greater description of how the subject is feeling.
  • Standard way to create a picture of the subject stress levels.
  • Create a greater data set.
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