Design proposal

The group brainstorming exercise we did in week 6, I found was really helpful and beneficial for me. I didn’t know exactly which direction I wanted to take my concept so creating a list of ideas has given my clarity for what would work best.
I have chosen to focus on mental illness in adolescents and what preventative measures we can implement in Australia’s schooling system. Even though mental illness has been touched on lightly in the physical education curriculum, in this day and age it must be updated to factor in the role and power of technology and height of exposure which all contributes to the increase of mental illness in Australia’s youth. However, after speaking further with my tutor, I have decided to turn my attention to 18-24 year olds that didn’t have enough support systems/help throughout high school. The problem, in affect, is the lack of guidance and so I will be looking at the after math of those who suffered from mental illness during high school.

Moran C. 2016

WHO does the problem affect?
Those who are suffering from mental illness, in particular adolescents and young adults. I want to specifically target young adults aged 18-24 whom experienced mental illness during their schooling.

WHAT are the boundaries of the problem?
The main boundaries surrounding this issue is predominantly ignorance or a lack of knowledge/awareness. Another main boundary is the reputation mental illness has. There is a continual stigma attached to mental that is extremely difficult to shake. Those suffering from some sort of mental illness face being labelled as “crazy”, “downers”, “dramatic”, “weird”, just to name a few. Mental illness is NOT something that people choose to go through. It can be hereditary, genetics, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain or a product of the past/traumatic experiences.

Adolescents often don’t know how to cope with mental illness if they are dealing with it. They don’t know where to seek help because there aren’t much channels of support and guidance offered to students. Often they might feel ashamed or afraid to be open about it with their peers because they feel like they won’t understand. Even in universities and the work place, the resources for mental health isn’t promoted or given a substantial amount of attention. So what is the after math? What happens to those who didn’t have the support they needed and how do are they coping with it now?

WHERE does the problem occur? Where does it need to be fixed?
The problem is not restricted to the school yard anymore, there is a heavy digital presence where majority of students interaction occurs. Over exposure to social media, images and news has proven to increase anxiety and stress levels in adolescents, creating more things for them to worry about than they need. Adolescents are bombarded with how they should, look act and feel and their innocence is almost stolen. On the internet you can be anonymous and people face less consequences. In the click of a button, students can expose, attack or harm another student and it’s not for an audience of one.

WHEN does the problem occur? When does it need to be fixed?
The problem is becoming more prevalent in today’s society. There has been an increase in suicide rates and mental health issues in Australian’s aged 18-30 years. The issue of mental health often stems from a persons childhood however when they enter into school, be it high school or university, and into the work force there is a lack of support and funding. The time to fix it is now. If we want to create a more stable and health future for the next generations to come we must start with ourselves.

WHY is it important?
Creating stable support systems and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health is essential because if we don’t take care of it at an early age it will carry on into a persons adult hood, making it quite difficult to function. This would then cause a chain reaction and their children may experience the effects of their mental illness. It’s an ongoing cycle. Unfortunately, we can’t completely stamp out mental illness, but if we provide the proper guidance and support to young Australians we can greatly decrease the statistics.

Five possible routes:
1.) A generative design:
A collection of responses of how 18-24 year olds dealt with mental illness throughout high school. Each response would be generated into a code that creates a different pattern each time. The forum would be online and the user can see the other codes that were generated assisted with the other users responses (it they choose to make it public).
2.) An Anthology:
A collection of writings, experiences and illustrations followed by a how-to guide of tips and techniques to cope with specifically stress/anxiety and depression. This would shed light on the issue rather than seeking to solve it.
3.) An illustrated book:
Create an abstract illustrative book that follows the life of a young adult who started experience stress and anxiety as a young teen and how it’s carried on with him. It aims to raise awareness surrounding those suffering with anxiety as it is an invisible illness but also to highlight the need for support and help at an early age.
4.) Campaign:
A nation wide campaign that pushes for more funding towards mental health in schools, universities and the work place. This would raise awareness and bring to the governments attention the urgency for more funding.
5.) Service Design:
An anonymous government approved forum for university students and young adults in the work force to communicate/confide in professional health practitioners. There can be an open chat for fellow members to connect as well. The forum would offer simple tips and coping mechanisms apart from the professional advice they would be receiving. The aim of the website is to offer a safe haven for others to be open about their mental health and to confide in a community for support.

The proposal:
It was a difficult path deciding what issue I wanted to focus on and which direction I wanted to take it. However, with the weekly support of my group and tutor I have decided to focus on the issue of the lack of support systems for adolescents and young adults.
The recent increase of suicide rates and statistics of mental health in Australians aged 18-24 can be attributed to a lack of support from a young age. Especially with our generation, generation Y, the increase of technology and exposure has made us more prone to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. I want to illustrate the affects an invisible mental illness (anxiety or depression) can have on a person and how a lack of support can manifest the mental illness in them, creating long lasting detrimental affects. Choosing to draw on my strengths as a designer, I want to create a story book, aimed at young adults and adults, shedding light on the long term affects of suffering in silence with mental illness. The illustrations will depict the anxiety or depression in an abstract way, following the life of a young lady who started to experience it in her late teens. Not having a strong support system, she has now grown up into a young adult and has adapted her way of life to the mental illness she has. I want the book to be a light take on something rather heavy and harrowing. Since the issue of mental health is often spoken about in a serious manner I thought taking another approach would help open up the minds of others.

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