Post 5: Design-led ethnography

Louis Johanson

Semi Structured Interview

Initially I compiled a series of 5 questions to ask my interviewee but after about 10 minutes the conversation turned into an open dialogue surrounding mental illness.

Some questions asked included the role technology and its negative impact on negative health. The question was based around 2016 and the vast array of online social media platforms. What factors do you think influence mental health in the 21st century. This question again came back to the influx of technology and the seamless and damaging interaction we have with our mobile devices that have become intrinsically part of our day to day interaction with others.

I also poised the question surrounding the role and effectiveness of socially led campaigns in raising awareness and funds of mental illness. I used the latest #itsokaytotalk coined by Luke Ambler as a case study. touched on past campaigns such as the ALS challenge. The conversation centered around the longevity of these campaigns and whether they had the shelf life or were just a social trend.

We also discussed the effect mobile phones have on high school kids. The interviewee talked about the damaging and anti social behaviour promoted through prolonged use of mobile devices. The interview talked about certain policies in her home China, mobile phones banned mobile phones at school. In addition to the psychologically damaging role that phones can play. Also touched on cyber bullying and the interview personally recounted stories of bullying in school.


After compiling the results from the Probe task coupled with the semi structured interview I was able to summarise my findings.

01. The interview re affirmed a number of pre conceived notions surrounding mental health and the stigma that hangs over those effected.

02. I was able to generate a number of insights in the general publics attitudes and standpoints concerning mental health.

03. I found out about different attitudes and behaviours concerning mental health in other countries.

04. The dialogue exchanged between myself and the interviewee helped bring up a number of unexpected thoughts and opinions.

05. Unlike a traditional structured interview which has a very rigorous set of questions recurring  answers, the semi constructed interview allowed ideas to more naturally flow between myself and the interviewee.

After conducting a semi structured interview with my peer we had the task to leave them with a probe. I gave my participant the task to ask and record 10 different friends and their thoughts and opinion on those suffering from mental illness.

Probe Task

The interviewee was provided with a probe to be completed over the course of the next 7 days. Using the reminders app on their phone, they would log the the amount of times they heard a set of words associated with mental illness in everyday mundane settings. These could be from their friends, family or media outlets such as the tv or radio. The interviewee was also asked to monitor and log the times they uttered these words.

The words chosen were depressed, Bipolar, OCD, anxiety, anxious and schizo.

The aim was to get a cross reference from a multitude of different sources, offering a wide plethora of data. And the end of the week the data set was sent back to myself were I was able to compile and quantitate the data into a table.

These are the results. OCD was the top recorded word. It was most frequently heard during the week especially Tuesday and Wednesday. These were recorded at Uni surrounding work ethic and assignments. Depressed was heard a number of times throughout the week mainly by friends talking about something that was sad or gloomy. The word Bipolar was most frequented over the radio largely in context of the weather.

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After looking through the recorded data I looked into words surrounding mental health that have all but been abolished as derogatory terms. The word ‘psycho’ has been used especially by the media when referring to crime and those mentally ill. This not only perpetuates misconceptions about mental health but strengthens the stigma surrounding the connection between crime and the mentally ill.

The media has frequently confuse d‘psychosis’ (which refers to psychotic mental illness) and ‘psychopath’ (which relates to extreme violence and anti social behaviour, not mental illness). Blurring the line between mental illnesses and the broad range of issues they cover.

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