After thorough consideration of the issue at hand and feedback gained from the draft proposal workshop last week, I was able to make informed decisions to ultimately refine my design proposal. I had the advantageous point of being organised into a group of three, enabling me with useful feedback from not one but two peers. This allowed me to gather insights from a variety of perspectives and understand how I could start to refine my design proposal.
Within this class exercise, I came to realise just how important is is that my design proposal is successfully understood and received by the particular stakeholders and actors. Certain suggestions came from both peers that really resonated with me and have proved to inform changes within my design proposal. Such suggestions included consolidating the broadness of mental illnesses to depression which is most apparent in rural and remote areas of Australia. By focusing on this I was able to get some great references that support the desperate need for a reduction in societal stigma surrounding mental health within rural and remote areas and how this reduction may benefit the issue of mental health within these small communities.
Project Title: Spot the Difference
Practice Type: Service Design
The Issue: There is a glaring societal stigma surrounding mental health with an evident derogatory nature, particularly within rural and remote areas of Australia. The overall presence of mental illness is broadly similar in rural and urban Australia, however the suicide rate is considerably higher in rural and remote areas. This can be largely attributed to a combination of factors; accessibility and availability of services, economic factors, distance and isolation, and societal/cultural attitudes. The prevailing Australian cultural ‘She’ll be ‘right’ attitude towards mental health within rural Australia has lead to a subsequent lack of acknowledgement and care for such illnesses without ‘physical symptoms’. There is a dire need for an increase in mental illness recognition within such rural and remote areas in which these attitudes are most prominent. With such attitudes being inflicted upon the younger generation in these small communities, a vicious cycle of neglect is emerging, only adding to the incessant societal stigma surrounding mental health.
The Possible Change: It is without a doubt that Australia’s attitude towards mental health needs to be readjusted, especially the blasé attitudes so pertinent in rural and remote Australia. Ultimately, there needs to be a change in the societal stigma that surrounds mental health, that change being a significant reduction in said stigma. Though there are other important factors that contribute to the rising levels of suicide and depression within rural and remote areas (as listed above), by intervening and influencing a change in the youths predisposition there is hope to eradicate, or even reduce, societies stigma towards mental health. With young minds being at their most impressionable state between the ages of 8-12, this presents the opportunity to impart certain attitudinal characteristics and behaviours towards addressing the issue of mental health. By prompting conversation amongst this age group their is the potential to create safe environments in which help-seeking behaviours are encouraged and sufferers are integrated into a cohesive society.
The Design Action: Spot the Difference will aim to promote sensitive and appropriate conversations about the issue of mental health, ultimately changing societal attitudes and behaviours towards the issue through phrases and word association. The design action involves pairing two optional responses with a certain phrase in which someone suffering from depression may say. The two optional responses consist of one being the most appropriate and sensitive, the other being stereotypical of the ‘She’ll be ‘right’ Australian culture. By drawing on the popular children puzzles Spot the Difference, the design action revolves around the idea that the children partaking should be able to distinguish between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ responses. Two illustrations will be displayed aside one another that appear indifferent, yet the responses below will be the two opposing. The illustrations will be line drawings that invite the children partaking in the exercise to colour in the pictures according to the emotions and level of sensitivity of the responses below. By being both interactive and recognisable as a popular puzzle, the design hopes to be exciting and engaging while also encouraging these youths to dismiss the ‘She’ll be ‘right’ blasé attitude evident in their surrounding society, and assume a more sensitive approach to the topic of mental health.
Mental health in rural areas. 2015. The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ranzcp.org/Publications/Rural-psychiatry/Mental-health-in-rural-areas.aspx. [Accessed 20 September 2016].
PATHWAYS OF RECOVERY: PREVENTING FURTHER EPISODES OF MENTAL ILLNESS – Rural and remote communities. 2016. Australian Government Department of Health. [ONLINE] Available at: http://health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-p-mono-toc~mental-pubs-p-mono-pop~mental-pubs-p-mono-pop-rur. [Accessed 20 September 2016].
The Huffington Post. 2016. Blokes, If We Don’t Stop Saying ‘She’ll Be Right’, We Won’t Be. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/joel-feren/blokes-if-we-dont-stop-saying-shell-be-right-we-wont-be/. [Accessed 20 September 2016].
Commonwealth of Australia. 2016. KidsMatter. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/. [Accessed 20 September 2016].