09 – If in doubt, try again

 

Wk6 in class brainstorm
Wk6 in class Five W’s and brainstorm

Culminating the research phase of the project, the focus our group sessions shifted to exploring potential design responses for our issues. To facilitate this discussion we initially framed the problem within the scope of the Five W’s – who, what, when, where and why. Specifying the context within which the problem exists established a sound foundation for the proposal to be developed.

Whilst such a format is incredibly useful in translating the conclusions drawn from research into a design context, without a fairly specific direction in mind, the exercise will merely described a vague or overly broad context. Although I had clearly found the use of language in media dialogue around mental health to be problematic, I felt that my answers to the Five W’s were still quite generalised.

When attempting to thoroughly explain the context of my issue to my group I found that I could not identify a specific element to focus my design response. Without a refined direction in mind, and a very limited amount of time remaining to the class, it then became difficult to benefit from the group brainstorming process. Had the Five W’s been completed prior to class, perhaps a clearer understanding of the shift from research into design would have been established and thus a more productive exploration into proposals engaged.

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08 – Getting to the point

After weeks of research, the project had now come to the point where it was necessary to shift the focus to developing a single, refined problem within the immensely broad topic of mental health. For me, the language surrounding mental health in media dialogue has been a particularly provocative issue, and hence has informed most of my research thus far. To inform the development of potential design proposals which would respond to this issue, it became crucial to write out precisely which factors are pivotal to its existence.

Five W’s

Who – journalists, television/radio presenters (news and entertainment), producers/editors of productions/publications, doctors, medical practitioners, medical/scientific researchers

What – the problem is bound in outdated understandings of mental health, which are based on a lack of existing/developed scientific knowledge. A basic understanding of the role and importance of the brain is a very recent scientific discovery, especially when viewed within the grander context of human history. The continuation of this boundary is facilitated by inconsistent education systems and differing cultural customs.

When – the problem begins from a child’s developing years as they come to understand the world based on the teachings of others and personal experiences. The problem is often present in any discussion mentioning mental health. Such discussions are not necessarily verbal, but can also be communicated through disbelieving glances or scoffs, as well as the developing digital language of emojis, acronyms, hashtags and gifs.

Where – In conversation between friends or strangers, in televised/broadcasted discussions/commentaries, in published articles (academic, news-focused, topical or opinion-based), in comment sections across all forms of digital platforms (i.e. blogs, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), in advertisements (print and digital), and also in film (discussion point or core plot/character development).

Why – The existence of careless and uninformed language around mental health promotes the continued prevalence of stigma through society. This in turn limits the availability of services for those in need, as well as further research into the field. Such limitations are a result of inequitable government funding and poor charity funding, since the general public is less invested in the importance of mental health when compared to physical health. Furthermore, these societal perceptions inhibit the willingness of individuals to be open about their problems and seek help, or the ability of those who are actively seeking help to feel accepted and not ‘other’.

Continue reading “08 – Getting to the point”