Collaborative Issue Mapping

Post 7

A collaborative exercise of mapping out the mental health issue was undertaken with four other students focusing on this topic. Maps addressing stakeholders, influences, and the intangible such as ideas, concepts and emotions were also explored. In addition to this, we attempted to hone in on the controversy of stigma around mental health and branch out all the relevant points.

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Reflecting on this collaborative issue mapping exercise, it definitely surpassed my expectations as the ideas discussed and results written down pushed the boundaries of what I would have written if I had done this alone. Even different opinions and discussions through this helped us map out further points. For example, one person didn’t think religion would have an effect on mental health and people going through this, whereas one person in the group explained a first hand experience on mental health and how religion played a part in allowing to ‘open up’ about it. This changed and gave new insights to our group which is a valuable result only possible with conversation and collaboration.

Another exercise which expanded my boundaries in thinking about my design intervention was the mapping of words resonating with the mental health issue.

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Here, my group wrote down all the words that included nouns, adjectives, emotions and ideas which was great to get everything in our minds onto something physical. It was also interesting to see which words reoccured most frequently, and which words others thought of that I hadn’t.

The whole team then went around the tables marking a word which they thought was most important or resonated with them the most and as seen in the images, they included the words:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Preconception
  • Shame

From this exercise, I noticed that the majority were all words with negative connotations such as ‘suicide, panic, stress, problem, incompetent’ where positive words were sparse. This highlighted the serious stigma behind this issue and made me think, “How can we change this so people can connect a more positive and approachable image to the issue?”

In regards to thinking about a possibility for action to create change, a simple yet intriguing point was made during discussion. This point was that people may be less aware, or choose to be less caring of mental health compared to physical health is because it is an ‘invisible illness’ and the idea that humans are more prone to believe what they can see. This idea for me sparked an interest to me as a visual communication designer delving into this mental health issue because as a designer we create from a concept, visually translate a message/meaning that people can SEE and UNDERSTAND – something the mental health issue lacks currently in our worlds. Perhaps this is the opening of an avenue to take my research further.

Written by Helen Chang

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