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.
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What – the problem is bound in outdated understandings of mental health, which are based on a lack of existing/developed scientific knowledge.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”