What are we talking about? The Language of Homelessness

Post 10 By Alice Stollery

Reflection & Revision

My colleagues raised a number of issues with my initial draft proposal. Being my first attempt, it was quite rough and I had not given enough consideration to the requirements of the brief.

My colleague could not see the link between my proposal and the required 18-25 year age bracket. And she was right, I had got so carried away with my research that I had lost sight of this requirement. She questioned whether this issue of language had come out of this age bracket or whether I was attempting to target 18-25 year olds with my design proposal. Reviewing this point, I will use tweets that have come out of this age bracket while contrasting their misuse of language with facts and statistics that focus on homeless youth within Australia. I also aim to target the 18-24 year old age bracket through my design proposal, by basing the exhibition at the UTS campus or other university campuses. I would like to target this age group, as I believe it is important for them to be empathetic towards this issue as they are the next generation of leaders, teachers, politicians and by starting with them, I will be able to instigate change in the future. Their views on this issue are incredibly important.

Concerns were also raised with the location or geographical nature of my data. Am I able to tell where tweets are being tweeted from and whether this issue of language is an issue that occurs within Australia. Reviewing my data, I have found that terms such as tramp or hobo are geared more towards an American context while misusing the term homeless occurs within Australia. Therefore I have narrowed my focus to the misuse of this term. I have also experienced the misuse of language in my daily life long before this assignment, throughout school, work and university. It is not unusual to hear someone describe themselves or their friends as looking homeless. However, it was not until I saw all of these comments collated on a spreadsheet of tweets that I was able to recognise language as a key barrier in solving the issue.

Another piece of useful feedback included the form of my response. I was told not to limit it to a book so I have given further thought to how this data could be represented. I have decided to create a public installation or exhibition that could possibly include posters, flyers or brochures as well. I will elaborate further on this in my proposal below.


The Issue (From research)

The misuse of language is a significant barrier in tackling homelessness. Insensitive, and politically incorrect terms such as hobo, tramp and bum, and the casual misuse of the term homeless to describe ones appearance, have seeped into the common vernacular. Dehumanising those affected by homelessness through this passive misuse of language takes away from the real issue, meaning wider perceptions of homelessness are less empathetic and communities have become detached from sufferers.

Through research into homelessness in the mainstream media, journal articles, social media platforms, image libraries and brainstorming sessions, the misuse of language and terminology around the issue has emerged as a negative actor that is creating a barrier between those in need and those with the power to help. We talk about homelessness in reference to appearance, rather than experience. In short, we no longer seem to be talking about the actual issue.


Possible Change

A design response that tackles this wider problem of perception and language will create influence rather than direct action. This will be an attempt to create internal change in those that misuse these terms, in order to create empathy, and ultimately to generate positive outcomes, enabling more people to engage with the issue rather than offering an immediate solution.


Design Action to Support Change: Data Driven Design

An exhibition titled “What are we talking about?!”  that aims to juxtapose the the misuse of the term ‘homeless’ in everyday conversation with the real issue and experience of homeless youth. Ultimately highlighting the disconnect we are currently experiencing between the two. The exhibition will be a visualisation of data collated from twitter and online statistics on youth homelessness collated during the research process. It will be a contradiction of meanings within the same issue and will highlight how language is acting as a barrier in our ability to help the homeless.

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Sketch of the exhibition space depicting alternative perspectives of the issue.

 

I will design the exhibition, mapping how the audience will move through the space as well as designing the look and feel for the exhibition, including collateral such as postcards and posters. The exhibition will be a series of hanging posters that enable you to see both sides of the issue. Looking in one direction you will be bombarded with the misuse of language as you see tweets that misuse the term homeless, for example “OMG I look so homeless today” or “That moment you look at a new pic of your ex and wonder how you could have dated him. #whatwasithinking #lookinghomeless” while the other side will contradict this with overwhelming statistics about youth homelessness such as “How can we still call Australia home when 32,000 young people don’t have one?” or personal experiences of sufferers such as “My friends don’t know I’m homeless”. The idea is that while you are looking in one direction at the language we use, you are unable to see the real issue  on the other side of the posters and as a result you are unable to empathise with sufferers. If you choose to talk about homelessness in this way, you are unable to be empathetic and to understand what sufferers are really going through. Visualising and organising data in this way will enable people to see both sides of the issue, one at a time and will hopefully generate internal change within the audience without publicly shaming those who have used this language in the past.

 

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POST 10: Reflection and Proposition // The Waiting Room

LAUREN FITZPATRICK // 12048880

Reflection

When I explained my concept to my partner and tutor, there were some great pieces of feedback that helped solve some issues in my proposal. I always find that my ideas develop a lot better when I try and explain it to someone out loud so this class exercise was invaluable in shaping and improving my design proposition.

I firstly identified my design proposition as a combination of a generative system and service design in the form of an app. The aim of the app is to make the experience of being in a doctors waiting room and appointment more humanising. One of the main pieces of feedback I received was how to create a common language between patient and doctor. From this feedback, I went back and read through my scholarly articles that first sparked this idea to gain more data and information to create this language.

Another aspect of my proposition that I hadn’t considered was how to make the app a post and pre experience for both patient and doctor. Will the doctor have access to what the patient is recording in real-time or will the doctor just have access to the accumulated data of various patients? I think the latter is more realistic but it would be great if the doctor could know what their next patient is feeling before they enter the room. This means the app needs to be site-specific and integrated in the space of a doctors waiting room and office.

Finally, the main problem with my design proposition is that I need to make it engaging so people using it become attached to it. My tutor used the app Pause as an example of an engaging design. The way the user follows the flowing shapes on the screen is meditative and draws the user in. This visual engagement and level of meditation is something I want to emulate through my design proposal so I conducted some more research into interactive mobile apps. Once example I found was Feel Me by Marco Triverio explores the disconnect present in communication through technological devices. As one person moves their finger on the screen, the other person can see the movement in real-tim. This is a concept I want to explore in my design response as it creates an emotive connection between both users.

Overall, my design proposition received a positive response with some small issues that I have addressed above. My tutor said it was something she hadn’t heard of or considered before so I think that the basis of my concept is solid. Now, I just need to refine my proposition and figure out how to visually represent it.

Proposition

The Waiting Room

Generative/ Service Design

The receptionist is typing vigorously while the printer whirs and spits out sheets of paper. A child is crying in his mothers arms while she rocks him hysterically to silence him. The man to your left is jiggling his right leg which is making the couch you’re sitting on move and the woman to your rights is tapping her pen on the clipboard piled with forms. You are sitting amongst all this noise about to see your doctor. How do you feel?

Put yourself in this situation. We have all been there before. There is no wonder then that the stigma of mental health patients not wanting to seek help is so prevalent. The way we feel in particular situations is often based on our environment. Through my design response, I want people in the space of a doctors waiting room to be able to feel comfortable to talk about their feelings, especially when it is time for them to interact with the doctor. The problem I am addressing is the stigma doctors often inflicted upon patients and the stigma of patients not wanting to seek help. It is a double-sided issue which makes it even more complex.

I propose a generative and service design app called The Waiting Room which is site specific to stressful and suspenseful situations such as waiting to see your doctor. The aim of the app is to make the user feel comfortable and positive in that environment and to be aware of their feelings. This enables patients to connect with their thoughts in order to communicate them better to a doctor.

The Waiting Room can be classified as a meditative app to prepare patient’s minds for their appointment. The user will be able to build their emotions using abstract shapes such as squares, circles and curves by they won’t know the exact meaning of each shape. While the patient is creating their abstract artwork, the doctor will have a real time connection and knows what each shape represents. This enable the patient to meditate and connect with their thoughts whilst the doctor knows how the patient may be feeling before the appointment. It is an abstract and gentle connection between patient and doctor that isn’t invasive and will hopefully improve both mind sets and reduce stigma.

Featured Image:

Unknown. 2015, Don’t Waste Your Wait, viewed 25 September 2016, <http://write15minutes.com/category/patience/>

POST 8: Brainstorming Possibilities for a Design Response

by Jessica Avelina Horo

Finally, on this week I’m starting to see how my research and brainstorming process could lead me to. In one of the brainstorming process about the problem in the refugee issues, I have some kind of interest towards the one about refugees experiencing trauma in detention centre. I posted the map visualisation in Post 9, but I also put the map that I’m talking about below.

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Problem Statement:

Taking some words from an article by Amnesty International,

(Sydney, 3 August, 2016)—“About 1,200 men, women, and children who sought refuge in Australia and were forcibly transferred to the remote Pacific island nation of Nauru suffer severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. The Australian government’s failure to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate policy to deter further asylum seekers from arriving in the country by boat”. (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

It is so tragic that from my researches, I found that refugees and asylum seekers on detention centre have been held there for like three years and then be neglected by the health workers and other service provided who have been hired by the Australian government. Not only that, local Nauruans also gave them unpunished assaults. I couldn’t imagine how traumatic these experiences would be for the refugees. They crossed the sea, not knowing how their life gonna be, risking their family, leaving all they have behind and hoping for better future but all they received is these treatments. As we can see from the map that I drew in the class, I tried to break down how the experience would be for refugees and all the related stakeholders. This has to change now. Life is already really hard for refugees in detention centre,  and it is even harder after they got released to the community. People are having these strong attitudes to reject refugees coming to the community, it exist because of a lack of cultural understanding between both groups. If mutual acceptance and respect was found and maintained, perhaps there would be less conflicting perspectives.

From here, I want to see what I can do to prepare refugees and the community to live together harmoniously after such traumatic experiences. By clarifying my problem statement, I was able to gather all of my thoughts on the issue into a concise brief that I can address in the Task 3. All the refugees’ needs is a new LIFE, which I will break down to 4 design possibilities; Love, Impart, Fellowship and Empower and for the last one is about empathy.

5 Possibilities

1 Love

Amnesty International tried to break down people’s misconception about refugees:

  • Asylum seekers are not ‘illegal’ – it is a human right to seek asylum by boat in Australia (UN Refugee Convention and Australian Migration Act 1958)
  • The majority of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are found to be genuine refugees fleeing persecution, torture and violence.

(Our campaign for refugees and asylum seekers, 2016)

 

One of the problem that I found from this issue is because of a lack of cultural understanding between both groups. Both of them are lack of mutual acceptance and respect. There are enough border control to stop refugees coming into countries but is this the right way? People are having this misconceptions about refugees, Islamophobia, an exaggerated hostility toward Muslims and Islam, appear to be on the rise in both Europe and the United States. This too will happened to Australia if we don’t spread the love from now. Educate people how we can embrace multiculturalism without fighting each other. Hostile and politicised rhetoric only adds fuel to the fire of Islamophobia, we don’t need to add more. The world is too full of negativity already. It is written by law, as mentioned by Amnesty above, that asylum seekers are not ‘illegal’, they are genuinely come fleeing persecution and war.

One mother said: “When they go to school, the Nauruan children call our children ‘refugee,’ not by name. People have names. They say, ‘Why are you here? This is our country. You should leave. We don’t like you staying here.” (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

Have we lose our humanity that we refuse to help people in need? They are facing rejection everywhere they go. This is the time to embrace them, spread the love and accept them by who they are.

2  Impart 

Give them opportunity to show their contribution to the Australian’s society and this could also give them an opportunity to start a career in a foreign career, where nobody knows them, and where they have to start from scratch.

3 Fellowship

Too many misunderstandings from what have been reported from the news, articles, photos but never from the person him/herself. So it would be great if we can have a chance to build a deeper relationship, to get to know refugee not from external sources but first-hand experience.  The result of this experience would be to break the myth that people have without checking the facts, clear the misunderstanding, embrace multiculturalism and know the refugees’ rights.

4 Empower

“…..almost 7,000 people drowned in the Mediterranean alone in the two years since the first big shipwreck in October 2013” (8 ways to solve the world refugee crisis, 2015)

“Nearly all interviewees reported mental health issues of some kind—high levels of anxiety, trouble sleeping, mood swings, and feelings of listlessness and despondency were most commonly mentioned—that they said began when they were transferred to Nauru”. (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

“People here don’t have a real life. We are just surviving. We are dead souls in living bodies. We are just husks. We don’t have any hope or motivation” (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

Refugees experience a lot of  trauma caused by the boat’s journey, uncertainty and mistreat in the detention centre and stress after they got released. Refugees also receive bullying in their school or workplace. In result they have identity issues, even after they are released into the community, people don’t see them as an individual, they see them as refugees. The refugees need some sort of empowerment; a centre that could empower them in terms of language, general knowledge about Australia, skills and psychology trauma.

5 Empathy

An asylum seeker described conditions while his wife was in labour:

“I saw my wife lying under the bed. The bed didn’t have a mattress. . . . I saw the nurse, an Australian nurse, playing on her tablet. My wife was crying. I said, ‘Please do something for my wife. This is like a jail, not a delivery room.’ The bathroom didn’t have tissue or hand washing liquid. I went out to buy hand washing liquid and rolls of tissue.” (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

“Australia’s policy of exiling asylum seekers who arrive by boat is cruel in the extreme,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International, who conducted the investigation on the island for the organisation. (Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru, 2016)

The Australian government may have failed to address serious abuses appears to be a deliberate polity to deter further asylum seekers from arriving the country by boat. As mentioned by one of the refugees in the detention centre, they have been neglected by the health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government. Not only that, they also receive frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. Self-harm and suicide attempts are common in the detention centre, all these actions are in result of their uncertainty about their future, which Australian government has failed to manage. Apart from the negative news that have been spread around about refugees, there are still some Australians that are in the refugees’ side but they cannot express their empathy. We need an event or a platform to show our empathy to the refugees and by doing so also to raise awareness for general people. However, it would be hard to get people to participate as a lot of them have a negative attitude to this issue.

Proposal

My proposal is in respond to my last possibility listed above, which aims to get people and refugees in an big annual event. The concept is to have the event probably in places like Darling Harbour and it will be held annually because this issue have been there for years and the impact to the refugees’ emotion won’t be quick to heal. As we all know that refugees issue is a complicated case happened in many countries without having the real solution that could solve the issue. However, even though a lot of people are blinded by the misconceptions but there are still a lot of people who wants to say sorry to refugees. For people who wants to give sympathy to the refugees, they could stay together in this event to contribute something positive to the refugees or the refugees themselves could show their true side directly to the Australians.

This concept could result with people embracing refugees and changed their perceptions about them. Refugees also would feel appreciated and welcomed by the events that celebrates their presence in the community.

 

 

Reference List

8 ways to solve the world refugee crisis 2015, Amnesty.org. viewed 19 September 2016, <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2015/10/eight-solutions-world-refugee-crisis/&gt;.

Media Centre | Amnesty International : Australia: Appalling abuse, neglect of refugees on Nauru 2016, Amnestymedia. viewed 19 September 2016, <http://www.amnestymedia.org/story.asp?ID=TEQBR&title=Australia__Appalling_abuse__neglect_of_refugees_on_Nauru&language=English&gt;.

Our campaign for refugees and asylum seekers 2016, Amnesty Australia. viewed 19 September 2016, <http://www.amnesty.org.au/refugees/comments/24019/&gt;.

Mind Mapping Ideas: The Strengths & Weaknesses of Group Brainstorming

Post 9 by Alice Stollery

Collaboratively brainstorming and mind mapping possible design responses had it’s own set of strengths and weakness. As a group, we spent 10 minutes on each person, first listening to their problem statement and then collectively coming up with ideas for possible solutions or responses. Each person was responsible for documenting their own issue, taking note of ideas they thought had value.

Strengths

As I have learnt in previous group work and blog posts throughout the semester, this process provided me with a good basic understanding of possible directions my design response could take. I found it to be a good starting point, as the ideas that came out of this session were quite vague and needed further individual development. The ideas from this session end up sparking thoughts and tangents in my mind that enabled me to think of responses I may not have come up with on my own. The process definitely helped when I sat down on my own at home to further refine the ideas and to draft a proposal. As a result the task seemed less daunting.

Weaknesses

There were however, a number of weaknesses within the process. As four out of five members of the group had a very similar focus area, it became difficult to continually generate new ideas on the same topic over and over again. The quality and detail in the ideas seem to reduce as we moved around the group. There were also times where there was not a lot of idea generation happening. I think, overall, as a group, we put too much pressure on ourselves to come up with complete and clearly defined responses. Therefore there were times when we had nothing to say, unable to articulate a complete response. In hindsight, we should have been a bit more playful and relaxed with the process, which may have generated more creative responses.

The Misuse of Language: A Mind Map of Ideas

Below I have included the mind map I generated while the group discussed possible responses to my issue of terminology and the misuse of language. As you can see there are a number of tangents and areas that do not make a lot of sense. I have noted some points down that are not exactly design responses but points I found interesting during the process that I thought could possibly inform my direction at a later stage.

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post eight: the journey to the design response

by zena dakkak
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Individual brainstorm for 3A

My previous research consisted of the prevention methods of homelessness amongst the youth in the community. As I progressed into my research I gradually started to see the misconceptions, and negative views that society holds against the homeless community. To be completely honest I was one of those people who viewed and ignored the homeless people as I walked through Central tunnel. Through the final stages of collaborative mapping and research, I decided to focus on the desensitisation of societies perceptions of the homeless community.
My objective for this project is to open the eyes of society and break the barriers that allow society to view the homeless community as invisible. As well as my previous point, I hope to diminish the assumptions carried with the word homeless and the issues associated with society and the homeless community.

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Individual brainstorm for 3B

five possible design responses:

  • Portraits of Invisibles. A series of portraits of real life people who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness. These posters will be situated in well populated areas that the target audience can view (university campus, train station, on buses as well as bus stops, shopping centres).
  • Pick & Choose. Interactive board that consists of stories of homeless people with hidden talents and information that would surprise the people of the public. 
  • The Mirror of Homelessness. Present a mirror that hangs from the ceiling. The person approaches it, portraying anyone can be homeless no matter who or what they’ve done in their life. 
  • ‘Have a Conversation with Me’. A table will be set up allowing people of the public to have conversations with people of the homeless community. This will enable people to communicate with them with the realisation that they are members of society just like they are. It will also create a positive outlook onto the homeless community that will bring hope. 
  • A Day in their Shoes. Attach a GoPro to a member of the homeless community to illustrate the harsh realities of society’s view on the issue of homelessness.

draft proposal

project title.
Pick & Choose.

practice type.
Generative design

the issue.
People of society, especially youth, don’t realise the complexity of homelessness. Based on face value, they judge the appearance of a homeless person not knowing anything about their background. In most cases, the homeless community have an educated background, a job and have hidden talents that everyone is not aware of because they are not given a chance.

the possible change.
In the hopes to encourage users to approach, help and raise awareness about this issues of homelessness amongst youths. This project will surprise and startle users to reflect on how they perceive people based on their looks rather than dissecting the multilayered assumptions society already holds.

the design action to support change.
To create an interactive board that allows users to pick and choose whether they think this person is homeless or not. This will be based on the real life stories that is evident on the screen. The users, not knowing the story is of a homeless person, then proceed to make a decision with their take of the situation. In some instances they will choose the wrong option which can lead them with the realisation that this story is based on a homeless person that is not described as their typical stereotypes.

POST 9: Visual documentation of the brainstorming session // Mental health

LAUREN FITZPATRICK // 12048880

As I sat down in class with my issues group, I knew the inevitable was going to happen. As the butchers paper was yet again spread around the class, my eyes watered. The thought of mapping again put my head in a spin. But, to my surprise, we weren’t mapping. We were brainstorming….which is basically the same thing as mapping.

So, in our issue groups, we helped each other brainstorm possible design responses for each persons particular topic. This exercise helped flesh out my problem statement from earlier in class and also my specific area of interest within mental health, which I have explained further in POST 8. They suggested even more specific areas within my topic, possible conceptual ideas, and current design responses and directions that relate to my issue. This collective brainstorming discussion on each persons topic helped create new perspectives and directions for possible service, generative or data driven design responses.

Brainstorm 1

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Brainstorm mind-map based on my particular problem statement – The disconnect experienced by patients affected by mental health issues in communication and interactions with health professionals.

The first brainstorm was on my problem statement, which I further explain in POST 8. My group and I discussed simplifying communication between patient and doctor in order to create a more comfortable dialogue. One of my group members also directed me to a current medical design response called Babybe which helps regulate the heartbeat of babies. This created another direction of providing care and guidance outside of healthcare for people suffering with mental health issues. This brainstorm provided me with a few avenues to delve into with possible design solutions.

Brainstorm 2

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Second brainstorm based on ownership and control of our state of mind. 

The second brainstorm was based on the problem ownership and control of our state of mind. We collectively brainstormed ideas about analysis of habits and feelings experienced throughout a day, changing perspectives on situations and the importance of mindfulness. In this brainstorm, we began to break off our ideas into the areas of service, generative systems and data visualisation designs. We got more into the process with this mind-map and generated more ideas and discussion.

Brainstorm 3

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Third brainstorm on proactive self help.

Our third brainstorm was based around the idea of proactive self help and mental wellbeing. Again, we categorised ideas into the three emergent practice areas at the bottom of the brainstorm. We came up with ideas such as a self help system/ tool kit, motivation diary and a happy graph. Interestingly, this brainstorm incorporated some drawing and sketching as well to better communicate ideas.

Reflection

If you have been reading my blog posts consistently, you would know my view of mind mapping and brainstorming quite clearly by now. I find brainstorming in a group has its ups and downs. I found it helpful in fleshing out my specific topic and problem statement but when it came to actually brainstorming ideas, we often got stuck or went off track in our discussions. I also think I needed a better understanding of the three types of emergent practices (service design, generative systems and data visualisation) before mind-mapping ideas as I felt like I was flying blind. I think group brainstorming is a great starting point for creating ideas and gaining fresh insights, but it is ultimately always up to the individual to create a final design response. 

POST 8: Brainstorming possibilities for a design response // Mental health

LAUREN FITZPATRICK // 12048880

So, it has all been leading up to this. After the past six weeks of mind-mapping, researching, brainstorming and not knowing what the hell I am doing, we were finally told to begin creating possible design responses to our specific issue. In order to start this, as expected, we drew up more mind-maps and collaboratively brainstormed ideas within our issue groups. It’s been long and ambiguous journey to get to this point so I was excited to finally think about how I could visualise my specific issue.

The Five W’S

The first task we were given in class was write about our specific topic individually based on the five w’s in order to create a problem statement to clearly articulate the problem. Again, I felt like I was just writing the same things I’ve been writing this whole semester but into different categories. However, this writing process and the feedback I received from my group helped flesh out my topic. Below is how I broke down my topic; the stigma and discrimination from health professionals experience by people suffering with mental health issues:

  1. WHO does the problem affect?
    The main stakeholders and actors this problem affects are mentally ill patients and health professionals. However, it is not just limited to these people. It has the potential to affect people who are yet to experience mental health issues. 
  2. WHAT are the boundaries of the issue?
    The boundaries of this issue are structural due to the connection to the health care system. Through my research, I discovered their is a lack of empathy, understanding and training in some health care professionals when dealing with mentally ill patients. Misdiagnosis, generalisations of patients and a lack of respect from doctors are large factors that contribute to stigma. In this situation, the doctor calls the shots and the patient should be able to trust them, but in may instances they don’t.
     
  3. WHEN does it occur?
    The root of this problem is when people suffering form mental health issues are frightened or uncomfortable seeking help. The problem then occurs when they speak to a health professional who may perhaps discriminate their illness without realising they are doing it.
     
  4. WHERE does the problem occur?
    The problem occurs within the health care system and also set behaviours in society. In this instance, stigma happens face-to-face during doctors appointments and the affects of this experience can be carried out afterwards.
     
  5. WHY is this issue important?
    This issue is important as it continually affects people with mental health issues and also affects the publics trust in our health care system. There appears to be a lack of trust towards doctors and a lack of respect received from doctors. It’s a set mentality in society that people with mental health issues are just overreacting or hypercondriacs. Health care professionals especially shouldn’t be influenced by this mentality. People need to feel comfortable to seek help from a doctor and common language/ dialogue needs to be create to help break this stigma.

 

Problem Statement

So, from this rant about my specific topic and after a discussion about it with my group, I came up with the following problem statement:

The disconnect experienced by patients affected by mental health issues in communication and interactions with health professionals.

In simpler terms, making the experience of healthcare more human.

Brainstorming

Once we all had our problem statements, it was time to brainstorm. My group and I discussed simplifying communication between patient and doctor in order to create a more comfortable and common dialogue. This would ultimately help break the stigma of people not wanting to seek help and the stigma experienced by patients from health professionals. Another area that we identified within my problem statement was the influential forces of our environments. In this case, going to the doctor should be a comfortable space for patients, yet at the moment it seems to be the opposite for many people. One of my group members also directed me to a current medical design response called Babybe which helps regulate the heartbeat of babies. This created another direction of providing care and guidance outside of healthcare for people suffering with mental health issues. This brainstorming session was quite rushed but I gained some good direction from my group members for possible design responses.

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My brainstorm mind-map based on my problem statement.

The following are five potential design responses that I am considering for my proposal:

  1. Improve communication between patients and doctors by creating a common language therefore building more trust in this relationship. 
  2. Assist patients in feeling comfortable in a health care setting through a meditative, environmental app aimed to relax and prepare the mind for stressful situations. 
  3. Evaluate the emotions felt in a doctor waiting room by getting patients to draw how they feel in order to accumulate a range of data to visualise. 
  4. Improve the training of health care professionals with an interactive design which highlights examples of stigma against people suffering from mental health issues. 
  5. Using an interactive map, demonstrate the relationship between patient and doctor and how important it is to have a respectful and trusting connection between the two stakeholders.

 

Draft Proposal

After brainstorming these five points, I have realised that the main problem within this topic is lack of communication. From this, I have written a draft proposal below to improve and develop my direction:

Through my design response, I want people to be able to feel comfortable to talk about their feelings, especially when interacting with a health care professional. We also need to stop the stigma that doctors inflict upon patients. So, there are problems from both sides of the issue which makes it even more complex. Ultimately, there needs to be more awareness that this is happening. I am especially passionate about this particular problem as it happened to both my dad and brother; they were too scared to talk about their mental health. It would be amazing if I could go back in time with a possible design response to help them through that tough time, knowing what I know now and understanding why they were scared.

Therefore, I propose to design a generative system within the space of a doctors waiting room for patients to interact with. The aim of the design is make the patient feel comfortable in that environment and to visualise their emotions by drawing and/or writing how they feel at the time. This enables the patients to connect with their thoughts and better understand them in order to communicate them to a doctor. This interactive design can be seen as a form meditation to prepare patients for their appointment. This data can then be collected to create a data base for future mental health patients and also health professionals to view and analyse. This way, the doctor can see how the patient is feeling before and during an appointment. This design repossess should open up a new and trusting dialogue between patient and doctor and should improve the stigma experiences by patients.