Post 7: Issue Mapping Mental Health

Throughout the course of this semester, I’ve been given many opportunities to collaborate with my peer focus group in brainstorming ideas concerning mental health. Each time it’s an interesting experience as each person is focusing on different aspects of the larger issue. For example, one is focusing on the mental health of farmers, another is focusing on the issue of misdiagnosis in mental health and our other peer is focusing on separation anxiety found in adults. The varying of perspectives allows for engaging discussion, new insights and a more informed view on both mental health in general and my own focus of the law enforcement involved in mental health.

The stakeholder maps explored in Week 3 brought forward an immense group of human and non-human actors involved in mental health. As stated in my previous blog post, these maps demonstrate how very complex and intricate mental health is, and if we begin to generalise the illness, it will become difficult to treat those with it and will continue to perpetuate its stigma. These ideas were revisited again in Week 4 and Week 5.

Week 4’s exercises of the word associations, allowed for instinctive ideas concerning our focus issues on mental health to be shared. It was interesting to see our individual words in comparison to the rest of the groups studying mental health. Nearly everyone had the same or similar words, with some exceptions being as less frequent than others such as racism, violence and authority. It showed me that the general perception of those studying the issue tend to associate the illness with more emotive words, describing the illness or feelings involved with it, rather than issues that affect it or are a part of it such as gender, expectations and racism.

The activity then moved onto using some of these words and documenting the stakeholders involved loosely or directly with each word. I found this exercise much more interesting to do since the focus of finding stakeholders was not on the general issue of mental health, but rather the specific ideas within the realm of mental health. It was another instinctive and fast paced exercise for our group, moving onto another word once we couldn’t figure out any more thoughts for one. It was a great process since it made us realise which actors and ideas stood out to us more.

Our analysis map from Week 3 and the word associations in Week 4 raised ideas that were controversial in mental health which was revisited specifically again in Week 5. Some of these included the stigma of mental health, social and gender expectations and media’s treatment of it. While I was away sick for this tutorial, my group caught me up on the activity for Week 5 and I was able to collect the images from the day. The first map explores a general brainstorm of the controversy and debates surrounding mental health, while the second takes a focused look into mental health stigma and culture. From studying the maps, the ideas written have more so reaffirmed my ideas and discussions from previous weeks. Stigma continually plays a large part in the treatment of mental health, especially in concerns with my own focus of the law enforcement. Through my research, it’s evident that the products of stigma such as ignorance and lack of awareness, has led to fatal shootings and excessive use of force in many law enforcement cases involved with mentally ill persons. Even more so when the very lack of awareness leads to mentally ill persons being labelled as criminals, and thrown into jail with no access to proper mental health care.


From co-creating the maps, I was able to explore the different focus issues of mental health that my peers were studying and become more informed on the general subject. The differing perspectives allowed for both affirmation and insightful thinking. Each person brought own their ideas that they gained through their individual research, making known of differing understandings of the stakeholders and issues that arise in mental health. An example can be seen in from a discussion while writing out our Week 3 stakeholder maps with my peer, who shared their thoughts on my focus issue on the law enforcement. At the time, I was more concerned with the mentally ill and the struggles they encountered with the police. They then explained to me that it wasn’t that simple when encountering a potentially dangerous person, with or without mental health. It led me to further research into both the police and mentally ill, which allowed me to become more informed as well as empathetic to the police on my issue. Even more so, the stakeholder maps throughout the weeks has allowed me to see the greater picture on my focus issue, seeing larger stakeholders such as government funding and the wider public health system that effect my focus issue directly.  Through it, I was able to structure my primary research exercise of my probe into investigating how much one’s perspective can change through educating themselves in similar way to what I had – by exposing themselves into differing opinions on the issue.

Thus, my initial ignorance has led me to possible design solutions that involves educating others on the larger stakeholders in place in regards to the law enforcement. Such solutions could include an interactive site or an animation that map out the specific stakeholders involved with my issue and how they attribute to law enforcement’s treatment of the mentally ill. Engaging experiences like these would allow for better informed perspectives that are hard to achieve in an issue where quick and emotive judgments reign. Overall from my own bias in the issue, this collaboration experience has been beneficial to me and has guided me into an enlightened and more informed direction with possible design solutions in mind.

Buisman, H., Lin, J. & Sobel, S. 2016, Controversy and Debate Detail Map, mind map, Sydney Australia.

Buisman, H., Lin, J. & Sobel, S. 2016, Controversy and Debate General Map, mind map, Sydney Australia.

Buisman, H., Lin, J. & Mijares, J. 2016, Mental Health: Human Stakeholders Map, mind map, Sydney, Australia.

Buisman, H., Lin, J. & Mijares, J. 2016, Word Association Stakeholders Map, mind map, Sydney Australia.

Lin, J. & Mijares, J. 2016, Mental Health: Non-Human Stakeholders Map, mind map, Sydney, Australia.

Lin, J. & Mijares, J. 2016, Mental Health: Stakeholders Analysis Map, mind map, Sydney, Australia.

Mijares, J. 2016, Word Association Exercise Process – Class words, photograph, Sydney, Australia.

Sobel, S. 2016, Word Association Exercise – Tagged words, photograph, Sydney, Australia.

Header Image:
Mijares, J. 2016, Close up of Word Association Stakeholders Map, photograph, Sydney, Australia.


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