My discussion of my draft proposal with my colleague was quite useful. At this point in time, I had not yet settled on a final idea and was tossing up between two.
One idea was of a service design which helped reduce barriers to seeking mental health treatment. This design was to be an interactive web interface in which a user could answer questions that assessed their mental state and needs, and then present them with suitable treatment options. Alternatively, this service could also be used to help the user draft a message, helping them to reach out to friends or family for support.
Upon discussing this idea with my colleague, I decided not to pursue it after all, mainly because tools similar to this already existed, such as diagnotic quizzes on sites like BeyondBlue. I also believe I lack the requisite information and knowledge to create an effective version of this solution.
The second idea I had was a series of data visualisations showcasing people’s personal experiences and perspectives of mental illness, drawn from social media posts. My aim with this was to help those who do not suffer from mental illness to better understand and empathise with those who do, by humanising mental illness and showing it is not something that (as per stereotypes) inherently entails antisocial or criminal behaviour. My colleague seemed to have a positive view of this idea, and suggested I could take it further by including imagery of popular celebrities who suffer from mental illness. I agreed that this could further help dismantle negative prejudices against the mentally ill, and have decided to add and incorporate this idea to my original one.
Project title: More than this (working title)
Practice type: data-driven visualisation
The issue: stigma against mental illness; specifically, lack of understanding and empathy for the mentally ill, and the belief that the mentally ill are likely to be antisocial/criminal parts of society
The possible change: increasing empathy and understanding of mental health issues by humanising the mentally ill
The design action to support change: Part 1 of the design action will use a poetic visualisation technique to showcase individuals’ own personal experiences and perspectives of mental illness by displaying their selected social media posts. These posts will be a curated collection chosen specifically to dismantle harmful prejudices against the mentally ill, and to humanise the issue of mental illness by showing posts which are likely to evoke greater empathy and understanding. Part 2 of the design action will also be a poetic visualisation. It will show a catalogue of famous people who are particularly loved, respected, and admired, along with their achievements and their mental illnesses. With this juxtaposition, I aim to break down the idea that a mentally ill person is necessarily an antisocial member of society, and also to emphasise the idea that one’s mental illness is not one’s definining characteristic.