Mental health stigma: Visual documentation of the brainstorming session

Post 9

File_000 (2).jpeg

Continuing on from Post 8 and the insights gained from the group collaboration, it was then time to delve deeper into a ‘problem’ and flesh out direct design responses. Pre-brainstorming mapping, we were to write down responses to the simple WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY questions which I thought helped clarify the points. Here is what I have responded to the questions:

WHO: The mental health issue can affect anyone – much like physical health. Even the people who are not experiencing mental health issues themselves are affected by this as their friends and family may suffer from this plays a role in their lifestyle. This is why it is such an important issue to tackle.

WHAT (Are there boundaries to the problem?): The boundaries of the problem is that there is lack of awareness and effective representation of this issue. It is an ‘invisible’ illness.

WHEN AND WHERE: As mental health issues happen ‘in the mind’ it can happen anywhere at anytime. There could be a realisation or ‘breaking point’ due to the build up of experiences and emotions one has been going through which is why early prevention and recognition is important.

WHY (Is it so important?): This issue is important as it can affect anybody at anytime. The worst end result can lead to suicide which then again affects a big circle of friends, family and even the community. Support, awareness, recognition and self motivation is lacking for this issue to improve.

Moving forward from this, my statement developed into:

The stigma and ‘invisible’ nature of mental health issues prevent people from understanding its importance.

Stigma has always been an idea that I thought was very important to address within this issue, and this idea was especially highlighted in one of our synonym/antonym word exercises. Various negative words of emotions and attitudes were attached to the mental heath issue and it may be an avenue to take a design solution to turn these into positives to allow people to seek support. Thinking about the design response for this I have come up with two initial ideas.

Data Visualisation – With this approach I am to give further understanding of the ‘invisible illness’, the intangible aspects of mental health stigma such as emotions and attitudes by creating a visual and informative poster designs. They may also explore current statistics, facts, quotes and the stakeholders surrounding this topic.

Generative Systems – Creating an interactive space where people are free to express their emotions or reflect on how they think a specific emotion within the mental health issue can be represented on paper with pen. After a certain time or amount of people, the drawings will be showcased for people to see like a gallery which gives a more approachable, relatable, ‘real’ and can create a sense of empathy towards the mental health issue. This process will not only gather visual data of which emotions are most common, intense or rare, but will hopefully allow people to be motivated to seek support and overcome the stigma. This idea came from a small project I found from Paste Magazine where professional graphic designers illustrated emotions such as ‘anxiety, worry, anger’ etc. (

Reflecting on the weaknesses and strengths, as stated in post 8, pushing our ideas in such a big realm was the most difficult. However, members discussing and even throwing out random comments kept the conversation and thinking flowing. For improvement, I think doing some research before the brainstorming session to have more informed views would help the process be more fruitful.

Further thinking from this point, some important questions to keep asking myself while thinking of concepts are:

  • What do you want them to feel? Is it empathy? An objective understanding? A new perspective?
  • What am I going to achieve? What do I WANT to achieve?
  • Always keep your audience in mind (18-25 year old)

Written by Helen Chang


Weiser. S, 2015. Visualising Emotions, Paste Magazine. <; viewed 16th September 2016.


%d bloggers like this: