POST 8 // Brainstorming Possibilities for a Design Response
By Eugenie Park
Mind mapping, brainstorming, researching, reading and writing. The process of researching my focus has been long and at times tedious. I realized the more I read and researched the more confused I became. During the many class exercises, we were continuously told to remember why this was interesting and important to us and so it was not until Week 4 when we did the word mapping exercise that I realized I was more interested in the importance of support groups and their effect on those that are experiencing mental health issues. The following classes focused on other mind mapping and brainstorming exercises, definitely helped me to dig deeper into my new focus. Each week, talking with my group members in class and also within our group chat, I was continuously pushed to ask questions and research through various methods.
Those returning from war are experiencing mental health issues and the families that they return to, also experience mental health issues. The families and friends are not educated or trained to help support those with mental illnesses.
Australian military families alone are not able provide adequate support for serving and returning soldiers.
WHO | WHAT | WHERE | WHEN | WHY ?
WHO does the problem effect?
Soldiers, Family and Friends.
WHAT are the boundaries of the problem?
A big boundary for this problem is the stigma that surrounds mental illness. This prevents many people from all different occupations from seeking treatment however this stigma has a stronger presence within the military environment. Soldiers do not want to be seen as weak or even be prevented from serving and thus keep their problems to themselves. Soldiers find it difficult to discuss their issues as the experiences from war are not entirely understood by all.
Lack of awareness and training is another boundary for this problem. Soldiers returning from service, return with mental health issues and families and friends are not aware of how to support and treat the issue. Soldiers and their families need to be aware of the mental health issues that can arise during service and how to manage it. Families also need support with supporting effected family members.
WHERE does the problem occur? Where does it need to be fixed?
The problem occurs everywhere. The stigma is everywhere and the lack of awareness is everywhere. Soldiers that train for the military need to be educated and informed about mental illness before they are sent to serve. The military environment needs to open up the conversation around mental illness and thus break the stigma that stops individuals from seeking help. The problem needs to be fixed before these individuals are sent to war.
WHEN does the problem occur? When does it need to be fixed?
Mental health illnesses do not occur after the soldiers return from service but are experienced and develop whilst individuals are serving. Veterans have a suicide rate 50% higher than those who did not serve in the military, and these statistics are slightly higher amongst veterans who were never deployed overseas (Bare 2015). This suggests that the cause of mental illnesses go beyond the trauma of war.
WHY is it important?
Supporting those with mental illnesses is vital. Although it may be hard to understand their experiences, it is possible to empathise and provide all the support we can to those that feel vulnerable. Having a strong support network helps those individuals suffering remember that there are people that care and love them. Returning soldiers should have that strong support network to help them through their nightmares and demons.
5 POTENTIAL DIRECTIONS
- Data Visualisation
- A data visualisation of the dates soldiers enlisted into the army and passed away from mental health issues/suicide. Data would also include age and perhaps time spent in service within Australia and overseas.
- Online Data Base
- A collection of nightmares that soldiers send in. These would be posted online for others to read and soldiers would be able to talk with one another. The dreams could also be displayed in a book or media piece where coding is used to transform the nightmares into spoken poems.
- A campaign that works to create greater awareness of mental health issues within the military environment. This campaign aims to work to educate and train soldiers and their families on mental health and its effects.
- Support Group
- Community group or service that stays with and helps families to support returning veterans and create a stronger support network.
- Social Network
- A social network created for soldiers and veterans to talk about their experiences and problems. People are able to post anonymously and can also connect with others to create an online support network.
For my design proposal, I have decided to focus on creating an interactive installation that is created from generative design. This installation will embody the experiences and nightmares of soliders whilst serving and after they have returned from service. This installation aims to emerse the audience into the mind of a soldier which brings greater awareness to the importance of supporting those with mental illnesses and well as being mindful of the mental health of your own and also those around you.
Soliders would send in their dreams or experiences online and these would then be rewritten by hand and shown on a touch screen wall within a dark room. Audience members can then read the stories and select sentences and words that stand out to them. The greater number of people that touch the same words or sentences, the brighter they shine on the wall. The room would be a moderate size not being too big and would have audio of murmuring voices. These voices would be reading the text however this audio is not to dominate the audience reading the text.
My design proposal needs much more work and refinement, as I need to continually question whether this is the best medium for conveying what I want to emphasise.
Bare, S. 2015, “The Truth About 22 Veteran Suicides A Day”, Task and Purpose, viewed 14 September 2016 <http://taskandpurpose.com/truth-22-veteran-suicides-day/>
Holmes, L. 2015, “24 Spot-On Illustrations That Combat Mental Health Stigma”, Huffington Post, viewed 14 September 2016 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/project-1-in-4-illustrations-mental-health-stigma_n_7598556>