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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“…..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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
project title. Pick & Choose.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The following are five potential design responses that I am considering for my proposal:
Improve communication between patients and doctors by creating a common language therefore building more trust in this relationship.
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.
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.
Improve the training of health care professionals with an interactive design which highlights examples of stigma against people suffering from mental health issues.
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.
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.
Social media is a large and prevalent force within society. There are various social media platforms that people can use to obtain and share information on current issues in society. They are a simple way for people to interact and communicate their opinions and beliefs with each other on certain issues in the world. Social media is extremely powerful as it can be an agent for change and can heighten awareness on particular concerns in society.
For this research, I have used Twitter to gain further insight into the perspectives of mental health in Australia. Twitter enables registered users on various devices to send, read and share short messages limited to 140-characters. It is a free online social networking service that many people use to share their opinions on issues and receive information on particular topics. Tweets can be commented on, liked or retweeted and contain conversation threads, hashtags to connect to general topics, hyperlinks to relevant websites and tags to other users. Twitter is a public service so users can follow/ be followed by anyone and tweets are permanent and searchable.
Data Scraping Process
The process I used to collect data was the Twitter Archiver add-on in Google Spread Sheet. Once I had connected my Twitter account to my spread sheet, I created a rule to find tweets catered towards my issue. It took me a few attempts to achieve a good set of data. My more specific searches didn’t bring up any tweets so I first searched broadly using the hashtag #mentalhealth in Australia and in my second search I specified the words stigma, mental and health. This brought up lots of results from many different stakeholders. From here, I went back and forth between the spread sheet and exploring Twitter manually for tweets. Using the spread sheet and Twitter directly, I found this method of data collection quite beneficial and discovered more information about mental health.
First search rule.
First data spread sheet.
Second data spread sheet.
Outcome of my data scraping
Below are some tweets that stood out to me in my data collection and analysis:
Reading through all these tweets from my data spread sheet made me realise that the view of mental health on Twitter is extremely positive. Having researched mental health continually for the past six weeks, it’s hard to see the positive side of the issue. Negativity and stigma are prevalent forces within the issues of mental health but I was pleasantly surprised to see the positivity and support displayed in these tweets. They mostly speak of increasing awareness of mental health issues, boosting positivity and helping spread the word for particular mental health illnesses and campaigns. This data demonstrates the power that social media has today in increasing awareness for particular issues.
Various stakeholders can also be identified through this data. Stakeholders on Twitter vary from people suffering and/or affected by mental health problems, bloggers about mental health and wellbeing, doctors and health professionals and also organisations such as SANE Australia. A lot of opinionated data can be collected from these individual profiles to gain a greater insight into the issues of mental health and how these stakeholders play a part within the issue.
Through my analysis of my data and further research, I have also identified some main hashtags used in relation to mental health which I have categorised into a mind-map (yes, another mind-map) below. Main hashtags that I discovered included:
Other hashtags that were quite prevalent in my searches include:
Hashtags demonstrate what is trending and provides an overview of particular topic, in this case, mental health. Again, it is interesting and enlightening to see that most of the hashtags used are positive and forward thinking.
After wading through all that data, I have created a five point summary about my experience of data scrapping and my view of Twitter:
Positivity stood out amongst the negativity.
Hashtags are annoying, yet helpful for data purposes.
Social media has a great power to boost awareness of issues.
Opinionated data offers a greater insight into various issues.
Use Twitter wisely; anyone can see it.
Visual Design Responses
It is still hard to say at this stage what design responses I could use to visualise this data as the information I have collected is still quite broad and abundant. A possible visual design response for this data on the issues within mental health could manifest as an interactive installation outlining the stakeholders involved and emotions experiences. I believe emotions and empathy is a key factor in understanding mental health issues. An engaging design like an installation would make the issue real to the audience. I would also like to explore the disconnect experienced when articulating ones mental state and how this can be perceived as attention seeking. Again, I could use emotions and feelings experienced by people to perhaps create a generative design response.
For this exercise I chose to use two Social media platforms, Twitter and Instagram. Twitter is an online social media/networking platform where the primary function is so the user can send a ‘tweet’ of no more than 140 characters. These tweets can be seen and shared by other users publicly or privately and a user can hashtag tweets. Paul Gil has described Twitter as Microblog where user can send short bursts of text. Because of the text limitation, twitter provides users with additional features so that they are able to get more out of their experiences such as polls, the Twitter timeline, mention Tweets, pinned Tweets, lists messages and cards as well as click to Tweets to extend the conversations beyond the limitations of of one Tweet.
Instagram is an online social media platform for photo and video sharing. It allows users to take photos and video, and share it wither publicly or privately, attach hashtags, cross share over other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and search for content through hashtag filters. Originally a distinctive feature was that it shared photos confined to small square parameter (640×640 fixed resolution and maximum 15-second limit) which the user can add filters and do small edits to their photos to achieved a “filtered effect”. Instagram was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010 as a free mobile app for android and apple.
Instagram allows users to post photographs within a 640×640 fixed resolution or 15 second video limit, this almost forces the user to be their own curator to make, creative good use of the limited space, forcing the user to focus on what they want to show. Using “hipsteresque” filters to create visual appeal which allows iPhone photos to approach a similar quality as those photos taken on DSLR and edited on Adobe photo editing suit which can change the entire look and feel of the a photograph. This is made easy and readily available to a wide variety of people. Instagram also makes it possible for people to tailor their accounts to themes or visual aesthetics where they use the Instagram limitations plus their own to convey a readily updatable record of photography.
Twitter is an application that however allows users to generate quick, short “tweets” that are a short snap-shot of their own personal thoughts, opinions and copy line making them more poignant (when there is a point). Through twitters restrictions and added features twitter can easily transcend its own platform to other social media sites such as Facebook extending traffic. Entire Discussions can arise through embedding tweets with hashtags, coupled with 144 character limit makes it an interesting platform of discourse.
Even though I am discussing Instagram, a large part of my process involved the automated features with scraping data for Twitter. Initially, I used tutorial run exercises to delineate key words that I had some sort of interest in exploring. From those keywords I began running Twitter key word and hashtag searches using the advanced settings. This mainly involved looking at hashtags for the key words “hobo, homelessness, homeless, sleeping on the street, I have no home”. After having done my own analysis of the findings, which included extensive searches for further unique hashtags, I put the xml version of my Google spreadsheets file into two online data based analytics sites WTFCSV and Brand 24 to get a quantifiable and numerical understanding of my results. From all of these results and findings that I gained from analysing the verbal feel of Twitter as well as the analytical content of my searches, I began co-orchestrating hashtag searches on Instagram to get a visual estimation of what was being explored and shared without the influence of written text. I had done this in the hopes to get a visual feel for for the more “true to heart” colour, tone and mood on the subject matter.
In a previous post I explored the perspectives and cultural influences on the topic of homelessness through the use of casual interviews and data probing. One of the largest limitations I found was that these methodologies impeded the genuine responses towards the topic of homelessness as people became aware of the nature of the topic through my research and discussions with me. Social media platforms have helped to bridge the gap and have given me an insight to a larger network of unadulterated opinions, perspectives and bias’s that are in some cases, completely removed from ethical influences.
There were multiple intriguing results. My initial search consisted of data mining twitter for the use of the key tag #hobo. This was the word that stuck out to me the most during the word association exercise. The search provided a very stigmatised set of results with a large proportion of tweets found came from people discussing their appearance and aligning their disheveled nature to that of a hobo. These tweets often came from American Highschool students (probably because they were going back to school). But all followed a similar formula. This idea was entrenched further by fashion brands repetitively using the term “hobo” to describe their brand new products such as “hobo bags””hobo jackets”:-
The colloquialism is generally associated with homeless people, however interestingly enough, the dictionary defined essence of the word is “a traveling worker”, which in the current context of modern societies is far removed to those who are in an impoverished state because they can not for what ever reason work. This data set was intriguing because of how much it showed how the term “hobo” has seeped into everyday vernacular and how desensitizing colloquialisms become.
Because these tweets were particularly negative, I decided that to gain broader results I would take a step back and filter the keywords homelessness, homeless shelter, I am homeless. Interestingly, comparing my analytical exploration of the data set returned and a computer analyser there were clashing results. Upon my own investigation I believed that the tonne of writing was negative and the outlook was grim, however when placed within a computer analytics site called Brand 24, the results demonstrated a contrasting idea.
When I looked at the Tweets again, I noticed that a large proportion of the positive angled tweets were advocate based, with many organisations attempting to gain awareness of their campaigns through Twitter.
As interesting as that stream of ideas was leading, I decided that I still wasn’t completely filling in a certain gap which was attempting to find general public based standpoints and potentially positive empathies.
This is where the search transitioned from Twitter to predominantly Instagram through their homeless related hashtags. I felt that looking at just Tweets had painted a picture that was too clear, and I wanted to keep my horizons slightly more open. Even though they were also a lot of advocate posts, the beauty of Instagram was that it provided me with a colour palette of thinking. Quite often as you scroll through any of the hashtags found on the list,the imagery is dark, urban, gritty, often very bleak to help convey meaning. A lot of thePhotography is black and white enhancing the impoverished nature of the subject matter and darker filters are used created a muted, darker tone in photography.
This creates a less alienated barrier between positive and negative perceptions. These flecks of gold, reduce the us and them connotations, bringing forth the visible homeless community to a more even playing field within human empathy.
From these findings, I have found that data mining provides a hashtag “colour palette” and from these colour palettes the general feel from people on this topic is more effectively and truthfully conveyed. By exploring both Twitter and Instagram, I was able to draw conclusions from both sides of the coin.
Rather than focusing on simply creating a visualisation of all these concepts. I took a dominating concept which was lack of empathy, and thought that maybe it would be interesting to combine data gathering and data visualisation into one. The twitter and Instagram scraping demonstrated that there is a lack of human centred empathy. This proposal is all about giving both the researcher and participant a “first hand” understanding of the problem. The interviewer would be supplied with a sheet of paper with a heat activated ink coating. The participant would be required to place their hand on the sheet and the interviewer would conduct a short conversation.The idea being, that the longer the conversation the darker the impression.Once complete both participant and interview will have a live understanding of the nature of empathy, with the understanding that the conversation will last for longer if the participant has a broad understanding, and the participant will have a broad understanding if there is to some extent a deeper emotional engagement to the topic. This would aim to poetically visualise the concept that I extruded from my data scraping.
This next sketch is a possible data visaulisation for the dominant colours found in Instagram images. The idea is to chart the colour palette of a #homeless feed to chart the range and frequency in which dominant colours appear. This would hopefully aim to demonstrate that bright and bold colours are a scarcity when in visual conversation about this particular topic.
Even though the results from this data scrape have been interesting and some of the research possibilities could be explored into even greater detail, I would love to repeat this process analysing Reddit. Reddit has less of an activist angle and can often be a true reflection of opinion. For example, one of my first searches I came across a discussion on “What I would give a homeless person”. These sort of results would be more poetic.
From this data scrape, I have learnt that the most passionate posts come from advocate campaigns, which generate interesting hashtags to be used within photography and tweets.
There is a big “us vs them” issue happening, I feel as if my current research hasn’t resolved what non human factors are involved within this and what sorts of objects could create a relational connection between anyone who is homeless and people who are not. This is something that Reddit touched upon.
Scraping for data is fascinating, and you need to go into it not knowing what you want to find otherwise it hinders with the creative analytical process. There are a lot of opinions that can be collected (ultimately without too much judgement). I would attempt this process a few more times, and try create a for more sets of data to try and find other angles to stigmatization. Maybe try some new keywords as well or statements that people actually use when discussing an experience they may have had with a homeless person.
Twitter has become both a social and professional platform allowing dissemination of anything from random thoughts, ignorance and pointless memes to breaking news and public opinion. With 313 million active global users recording and sharing their thoughts, feelings and experiences, twitter is a real-time source of information and has become a medium in which people can keep up with those they know and those they don’t. The 140-character limitation on posts makes it a perfect tool for researching public opinion and scraping the platform for data, without being overwhelmed.
Web Scraping Process
Twitter archiver was my main source when scraping the web, as it allows you to create a search rule and, unlike other tools such as twitter advanced search or facebook, it collates the results into a single excel spreadsheet. This feature became invaluable in gaining insights from the results as it allowed me to sift through the information using specific terms, further refining my results. Insights often came as a result of tangents, originating in previous search results.
Not being a twitter user myself, I stumbled at the start. I created a twitter account and downloaded twitter archiver and linked it to my gmail account. Initially, I ran searches that were very specific, in an attempt to find information on stereotyping and the technological divide within homelessness. I set the location to Sydney, however, this failed as I did not receive a single result. So, I changed the location and widened the search to Australia. Again, I was being too specific with the number of words I was using and twitter archiver came back with nothing.
I then decided to change my approach and create a simple search of ‘homeless’ and ‘stereotyping’ which produced 14, 931 results. I then used the search tool to search for key words from the group issue mapping class within the data set. This helped me to break down the vast amount of information and to see what people were saying about issues within homelessness. This became a very interesting process. The initial words I searched within the results were quite basic as I was still getting use to using the software. However, they still provided insights and I have listed the most frequent words below.
Interestingly, homeless men were referred to 4,279 times compared to only 251 times for homeless women. This is in line with the statistics revealed through one of my earlier posts that stated 82% of Sydney’s homeless are male and only 17% are female. As these posts were not Sydney specific, it is interesting to see that these statistics may also be a good indication of the situation in other parts of the world. I am curious as to why the numbers of homelessness between sexes differs so significantly. And can begin to understand why previous sources outlined a lack of services tailored to homeless women. I can only assume that this is due to less demand for them..? I could look further into the specific causes of male homelessness, contrast it to female homelessness and see if there is an opportunity to intervene with my design response.
Another observation was that the word ‘help’ only appeared in 1,137 posts out of 15,000. Looking further into these posts I found, ‘help’ took different forms. Some were genuine posts about helping the homeless with information of individuals lending a hand or community projects. It was really interesting to see how others were approaching and tackling the issue on a personal level.
Other twitter users made genuine offers help. In his case twitter was used as a form of communication to reach people in a particular area to help assist in helping those in need. This highlighted the possibility of technological responses that act as a connection between those with something to offer and those in need. Service design could bridge the gap between say, small businesses with food or accomodation available and the homeless.
While each of the above insights were interesting, perhaps the most interesting insight was not only the presence of stigma in these posts but stigma as a result of the frequent misuse of the word homeless. While there were 15,000 posts that included the word homeless, I found that more often than not people were using it as part of casual conversation, to describe their lack of dress sense or effort invested in the appearance of friends or celebrities.
It seems that, no matter how hard I try to broaden my understanding of the issue, I always seem to arrive back at stigma, perceptions of the homeless and ignorance towards their circumstances.After seeing these tweets, I decided to look into how the misuse of language is hindering our ability to tackle homelessness. As a result, I then ran a search on the term hobo to understand how often it was being used within the twitter sphere. This search found 10,732 results with the term hobo included in it.
“RT @emmaabel_: I am going to try and make myself look decent tmmr and not like a hobo”
“@Lizbeth_923: First Date And I Look Like A Hobo 🙂”
I believe the ubiquitous misuse of language surrounding homelessness is dehumanising the homeless, and ultimately, taking away from the issue. This is not only present in social conversations and personal online interactions, but is also reinforced by the fashion industry as seen below with the release of the ‘hobo’ bag.
Shockingly, the term hobo is also being used as a design response to the issue, evident in the iHobo app. The virtual pet app that puts a homeless person in your pocket for you to feed and take care of. Forget to feed your hobo and he dies or runs off to get drugs. I think using gaming to tackle peoples perceptions is an interesting idea but I can’t help but feel this approach is distasteful, to say the least, and is reinforcing the publics stereotypical and often negative perceptions on the issue, not to mention dehumanising those in need.
To further investigate this area, I could also try searching the term ‘tramp’ and other common names used to describe the homeless. The above tweets highlight a severe lack of empathy among the general population for those suffering from homelessness. Homelessness does not seem to be a topic that people are talking passionately about. The homeless have fallen by the wayside and we are all so desensitised to the issue that homelessness has become commonplace in daily language for all the wrong reasons.
Design responses could enable change in this area, and I would like to focus on the role language plays in the issue. I think there are already a number of individuals and NGO’s working to directly help the homeless so I would like to instead create a design response that tackles the wider issue and aims to influence the views people have of the homeless. Tackling this wider problem of perception, assumptions and language would aim to influence the common vernacular rather than direct action on a smaller scale. This would hopefully result in a knock on effect, creating empathy and engagement among the wider population, to ultimately generate positive outcomes on a wider scale.
In terms of it’s form, I could create a twitter bot that calls people out on their misuse of particular words. However I think this would breed hostility rather than empathy. Language will be an important element and in order to generate a feeling of empathy I think the design would be suited to a poetic response that encompasses feelings and a the contradiction of meanings.
In an attempt to reveal relationships between language and the the number of homeless people, I could visualise the frequency of misuse of vital words. Perhaps I could plot the locations of these misuses and correlate this data with the number of homeless people in that particular area to see the relationships between the two and to discover how local attitudes affect the issue. However I am hesitant to do that as I do not think data will generate an empathetic response in the way that I am hoping.
Five Point Summary
Twitter and twitter archiver are both very effective tools in scraping the web for data to understand how the wider population are feeling towards homelessness.
It is important to remain open to outcomes outside your initial understanding. I went into this process with a focus on stigma and the technological divide, yet ended up delving further into the role language plays in creating barriers to a solution.
Those offering food, services or accommodation on a personal level have great difficulty in finding the right people to help. Perhaps a service could be designed to bridge this disconnect.
More often that not, conversation around homelessness is not referring to the issue at all and is used more so in casual conversation to describe appearances. The misuse of homeless terminology is rife among the online community and has seeped into the common vernacular ultimately resulting in a lack of empathy towards sufferers.
Homelessness does not seem to be a topic that people are talking passionately about. The homeless have fallen by the wayside and we are all so desensitised to the issue that homelessness has become commonplace in daily language for all the wrong reasons.
EWapo. 2014, ‘I’m playing a game called iHobo where you look after a tramp and I’m legit checking up on him every 5 minutes, I’m here for you trampy’, Twitter post, 10 January, viewed 3 September 2016,<https://twitter.com/EWapo/status/421761288617091072>.
This whole subject has been all about mapping. Even though I find mapping a tedious and boring task, it has been quite helpful in sorting out the various stakeholders involved within the issue of mental health. Since our first mapping exercise in week 3, my group and I have created about 6 different iterations. These various maps have given me a broader view of the issue and I have also gained further insights through our group discussions in class.
Collaboratively mapping with my group members has been an interesting experience as we have all been focusing in on a different area within the issue of mental health such as stigma, borderline and genetics. With all our different perspectives and knowledge, we have created a series of maps rich with insights and discussions. It is also interesting to see how other group members topics link to mine own about stigma and how I can use their research for my own topic.
Week 3 // Stakeholder Map
As I have already explained in POST 3, the process of mapping participants in relation to mental health has been enlightening and gave me a clearer idea of who are involved and why. This first map is quite general and basically outline stakeholders such as the government, media and health professionals.
Week 3 // Revised Stakeholder Map
I further refined our stakeholder map digitally and fleshed out our colour coding system to differentiate the stakeholders involved and the sentiments towards them: organisations, human, education, actions and obstacles. I was then able to make connections between the various stakeholders which helped specify more issues within mental health.
Week 4 // Word Association
For this exercise, my group and I brainstormed words associated with mental health. It was interesting to compare the words that each group member brainstormed. There were some words that doubled up such as stigma and ignorance which demonstrated generalisations and main problems within the issue. On the opposite side of each word card, we also had to write an antonym which was quite difficult for some words. What I found most interesting was the emotive words that we came up with as I hadn’t taken emotions into consideration with my own word list. Describing the feelings felt by people affected my mental health issues allows us to empathise with them and understand the issue better.
The next stage was selecting paired words to arrange 20 of our mental health words onto a scale. We selected positive and negative as our scale. It was interesting to see the scale once we flipped with words over to reveal the antonyms as it was the exact reverse.
After we generated all these words, arranged them and voted on the best ones, we moved onto creating (yep you guessed it) another stakeholder map. This map was based around three words that we selected which were uncertainty, ignorance and future. This helped connect the word associations to the players involved in the issue and further fleshed out our understanding of who is involved and why.
So at this point, we have created about 3 maps on stakeholders and word associations that raised discussions and ideas about mental health. It was no surprise to me then that in Week 5 we were asked to draw up more maps – yay.
Week 5 // Lack of Knowledge Map
In the first map, we took one aspect of our issue which was lack of knowledge and brainstormed about connected areas such as people, history, behaviours and pressures. Some new insights that we brainstormed were biological limitations, preconceived archetypes of mentally ill people, pressures and assumptions and culture. This quick paced exercise was valuable as it opened up some new areas of our issue that we hadn’t considered before.
Week 5 // Controversies Map
The second map we created in this exercise outlined the controversies and debates within the issue of mental health based on the previous brainstorm. We identified controversies such as biology vs mentality, social status vs situation, needs vs wants and past vs present. It was helpful dividing our issue into these debates as we uncovered new ideas and insights.
Week 5 // Needs Vs Wants Map
The third map focused in on one of the controversies from the second map which was Needs vs. Wants. This debate is centred around the mindset of people thinking that mentally ill individuals are just attention seeking which is not the truth. We identified that there needs to be more communication around the issue of mental health and we want to further understand the needs and wants of people affected my mental health issues.
Week 5// Nike Map?
In the fourth and final map, we selected a very specific area within our last map. We first selected the broad area of media, then advertising, then consumer goods and finally selected the brand Nike. We were quite confused as to how this related back to the issue of mental health…
As much as hate mind-maps, I will admit that these exercises were helpful in my understanding of my issue. Through the various maps, we explored the different ideas, problems, perspectives and debates associated to mental health. Each group member had insightful and different input into the creation of these maps and through them, I learnt and considered more about my specific topic. It’s amazing how once you get into a discussion, the ideas just flow and the conversation smoothly progresses into deeper ideas and understandings. If i did all these mapping exercises by myself, they wouldn’t even be half the content they are now. Co-mapping with others is invaluable and I love to listen to other people’s views and beliefs.
From these mapping exercises, a possible design led solution/ action for change for the issues within mental health could manifest as an interactive installation outlining the stakeholders involved and emotions experiences. I believe emotions and empathy is a key factor in understanding mental health issues. An engaging design like an installation would make the issue real to the audience.
In terms of the mapping exercises themselves, I found them extremely tedious. I understand it is important torepeat work, but I believe it was unnecessary in this case. The amount of work on these mapping exercises could have been completed within one tutorial. That being said, it is good to take the time to reflect on ideas. So, I guess I am kind of on the fence for this task; I found it valuable in building my knowledge but the time spent on it was unnecessary. I would have rather spent the time honing in on my own area of mental health whilst still discussing ideas with my group. Overall, mapping has been a positive experience. It has enlightened me on mental health issues and my group’s collaborating skills have improved.
This informal, semi-structured interview gave me an insight into areas of mental health that I hadn’t considered before. My interviewee partner wasn’t as knowledgable about mental health as I have become over the past few weeks so his answers to my questions were quite raw and refreshing.
When I asked him what generally comes to mind when he thinks of mental health, he responded with drugs, negativity, selfish individuals and violet people. This response startled me and reinforced what I have been researching; stigma and discrimination against mentally ill people. He isn’t very aware of mental health issues as he hasn’t experienced them first or second hand. He has seen documentaries and depicting os people with mental illnesses being socially unstable. A good point that he made was that mental health problems are not just about the mind, it affects people’s physical health as well. He also described how he views people with mental health issues and how he acts differently around them. He agreed that he acts differently by changing the tone of his voice and the way he speaks to them. He says that people with mental health issues have random and spontaneous actions and emotions so it is hard to expect how they will react in some situations.
One aspect of mental health issues I wanted to ask him about was his own experiences of stress in everyday life and how it affects him. He responded that university life such as assignments, group work and responsibilities make him stressed and he often finds it difficult to manage. When he is stressed, he is scared of making mistakes and becomes nervous. The intention of this question was to simulate to him how, someone suffering from mental health issues (for example anxiety) might feel on a day-to-day basis.
Finally, I asked what he uses as coping mechanisms for when he is stressed or nervous. To my surprise and delight he said that he plays video games to unwind and calm down. This is an aspect of mental health treatment I researched early on in POST 1: Secondary Sources // Mental Health; specifically the benefits of Pokemon Go for people suffering with mental health issues. For my my partner, the stress remains on his mind for a while but doing things such as playing video games takes his mind of things briefly so he can relax.
Reflecting on this interview experience, I think it was quite successful as I gained some insights into mental health I hadn’t considered before. However, his answers were quite short and it was difficult to get him to expand on his responses as he didn’t have much knowledge on mental health in general. If I were to conduct this interview again, I would try and provide more context for him and perhaps form more open questions and subquestions.
The probe that I set my partner was to meditate everyday for a week and write down how he felt before and after. Meditation is a simple act for a healthier mind and awareness of mental health. It is beneficial for everyone to take a few moments out of their day to relax and focus on their body and mind. For this probe, Itold him to use the free app Headspace to help guide him with his meditations during the week. Visit here to find out more about the Headspace app for meditation.
Before starting with the probe, my partner listed 10 purposes/goals for meditation:
Reduce stress and improve positive attitude.
Reduce the pain from headaches.
Control my mind and body.
Reduce physical and mental tiredness.
Improve brain function and planning ability.
Reduce stress and anxiety.
Test and improve my biorhythm.
Sleep well and earlier.
Most of the time before meditating, he stated that he was stressed, tired and nervous about university assignments or work. After meditating he felt more relaxed and was able to reflect and evaluate on his day. It helped improved his concentration and even helped reduced the pain from a migraine one day. Throughout the week he also increased the duration of his meditations from 1 minute to 7 minutes which shows how he learned to take time out of his day to focus on his mind.
The purpose of this meditation probe was help my partner become more aware of his mind and thoughts in order to empathise more with people suffering from mental illnesses who would find this type of meditation difficult. Ideally, I would have liked him to experience a face-to-face meditation class to compare it to the Headspace app to see which was most affective. Overall, I think this was a rewarding and enlightening experience as I have learnt a little more about mental health in relation to meditation and treatment and he achieved his goals from meditating everyday.
Primary research adds another layer of of detail that bias and agenda in writing can often wash out. Primary research can help determine raw, unadulterated emotion creating a broader perspective and a more rounded understanding of ideas, emotion and mood. Significantly, primary research gives a greater contextual understanding of the intended demographic.
Even though the topic of homelessness is a global issue, understanding, view points and solution strategies vastly vary not only person to person, but across borders. Within Sydney there is a significant mix of Cultural personalities who’s views Segway from those often expressed in Western academic writing and media articles. Through a conversational interview process which involved on the spot adjustment to the angle of my research I was able to gauge the breadth of understanding on the topic of homelessness on a more personal level. Paired with an international classmate from China, I chanced upon the opportunity to begin developing a culturally led exploration into the views and empathies between an opinion caught in the middle of East and West values.
From this process it became ardently clear that cultural values shape a particular perspective on any given situation. The conversation generated consistent comparisons between China and Australia and determined where and why the interviewee was placing emphasis on certain beliefs and views towards issues and their subsequent strategies. The interviewee experienced a sense of disconnect from the topic as contextually, this was something that only recently came to awareness recently due to a shift in geographical location.
“I have seen a lot more homeless people in Australia than in Mainland China, because in China homeless people aren’t a large issue. In China more people are disabled and they listen to people for advice. The homeless issue is paid more attention to here in Australia, but in China there is no focus.”
This created a cultural divide within discourse. The interviewee was only able to create an understanding from what is visible in the street. Interestingly, through secondary research it became apparent that what people see on the street “is only the tip of the iceberg”. The interview helped solidify the weight in which people place what is visible as the forefront of the issue creating a valuable connection between primary and secondary research.
One of the most topical points of conversation was derived from solution based examinations for homeless people. The interviewee placed a heavy emphasis on education as being at the forefront of causality and the subsequent solution to the issue of homelessness. Expressing that,
“In China we have to pay to go to high school, no Government support for University. They are very poor and fro the Country Side and can maybe study at home, many people want social help and money to go to University. The parents don’t have the money because they don’t work. So everyone is expected to go to school”.
Cultural value of success and culturally lead ideologies shaped the nature of the interviewees perceptions. When encouraged to discuss what the interviewee may do if ever made homeless, the interviewee swiftly delineated that was not an option in life.
“If I were made homeless here, I would have to go back home because there is no help for me here. Not everyone can go to school. I would have to find a job”.
From this discussion it became clear that the value of social obligation varied between East and West. In fact, education was held in such high esteem that when asked “what do you consider homeless”, the interviewee made the instantaneous connection between a lack of education and the state of being homeless.
“It might be a lack of education like university, they have no money to go to school. Maybe they can do a job, but they don’t know how to do this work and the company don’t want to employ them because they don’t have the education or the experience. I feel like the communities should give them more opportunities for job.”
This opinion is a stark contrast to those expressed by secondary sources, which, written in a Western perspective come to terms that prime physicality is not the only state of being people need to be in in order to complete education systems or even acquire jobs and interestingly is not the only measure of success.
Assessing culturally driven personal perspective allowed me to see where this particular individual placed a heavier emphasis of importance. In secondary sources, this importance is placed on societal good will, yet through conversation with my interviewee the importance shifted to the willingness and implementation of self help strategies. when asked how the interviewee would support a friend who is experiencing homelessness the interviewee exhibited personal life philosophies,
“Everyone have their own life, maybe my friend can change their own lives. The problem can’t be fixed with just this one time, we would make a survival plan to try and solve the problem to survive life.”
The idea of help comes across differently and the interviewee placed a heavier value on individuality and independence. It became clear that within her personal scope the interviewee felt that independence led to rehabilitation and the subsequent return to work which was soulfully more rewarding than charity.
Outline:- In alignment with the result of the interview, the participant is to walk around Sydney’s CBD and write a short description of what individual members of the homeless community are wearing. This is to be accompanied by a one word description of how this makes the participant feel which should be culled with a shape of their choosing.
Through creating a clinical awareness, it is hoped that this exercise may change the nature of the participants stigma by making the participant ignore socially driven stereotypes and bring to the forefront natural emotion and reactions.
The results did not completely eliminate stigma and ster. The participant still took note of the negative aspects of their appearance and connected these with various negative emotions. However, the value of this exercise come in succession. The more probes the participant did the more empathetic emotions elucidated. From worrying about general appearance and how it reflected a state of discomfort, the participant began to empathise with the what was observed and instead of channeling how the participant was feeling, there was empathetic channeling where the participant began to consider how the subject may be feeling.
Interestingly, most of the examples returned are male and are predicted to be in their middle ages. Many of the example noted are also wearing dark or muted colours, generally comfortable clothing. In each example returned there were unique splats of colour that drew the participants attention, from he colour of the blanket they use, to the unique colouring of soles in their shoes.
The most interesting result, is the emotive paired shape. Despite the participants increased emotional connectivity to the subject matter, the participant had not once listed a comfortable shape. Each example provided had either sharp edges, unsure shapes, acute corners or a mix of all.
The task is a mixture of failure and success. Even as a clinical process it failed to remove a clinical stigma extracted even from written expression and visual interpretation. However, through this it managed to show that some of these stigma’s may be developed through personal human instinct to what a person may feel comfortable to be in the presence of. In reflection, it would be interesting if this task was conducted in a more guerrilla format where I would accompany the participant and record their own natural reactions to what they see and what emotions they may or may not exhibit. This particular probe brought the the topic of homelessness to the forefront of the participants mind, actively getting them to think about the topic. Stigma, is more commonly presented in natural unhindered behaviour where “the truth comes out”.
Five Point Summery
Cultural Values shape the perception and acceptance of situations such as homelessness.
Cultural parameters create differences in weighting certain values. Different cultural groups measure success differently therefore societal expectations vary. In Australia education is not the be all end all where as in China is a large part of success and failure.
Culturally driven personal perspectives are an intriguing demonstration of life based ethos’s which can serve as an interesting angle to problem solving strategies.
Emotion can be built through repetitive viewing and demonstration
Stigma may not just come from social contract. Stigma may be developed through instinctual reactions towards another individual. Generated through discomfort and the end to be safe.
This process of mapping participants in relation to mental health has been enlightening and I now have a clearer idea of who are involved and why. It is easy to say that everyone is involved and/or affected by mental health but there are key stakeholders that we outlined in our first map iteration including the government, media and health professionals. Throughout the weeks, we branched out from these and connections started to become apparent between these various participants. The government, health care, the future, jobs, support programs and the media are all connected are create a convoluted circle of relationships around the issue of mental health.
In our second mind map, we began connecting various stakeholders and participants to words about mental health; ignorance, uncertainty and future. This helped us better understand their different relationships.
In my final map, I used a colour coding system to differentiate the stakeholders involved and the sentiments towards them: organisations, human, education, actions and obstacles. I also connected various aspects of the map to demonstrate the complexity of mental health.
1. Physical vs Mental // Unknown
The main message being communicated through this illustration is the stigma relating to mental illnesses in comparison to physical illnesses. This stigma that mental health issues should be hidden and are shameful is something that needs to be addressed. When you compare this to the awareness of various cancers, you realise how little recognition mental health issues receive. This simple illustration is very emotive and conveys a strong message about how people view physical and mental health differently.
2. Dispelling Stigma // Joe Walton
This editorial illustration for the Rollins School of Public Health clearly demonstrates the feeling of being discriminated against due to your mental health. People suffering from various mental health conditions will experience this kind of name calling and discrimination which ultimately hinders their treatment and recovery.Words such as weird, freak and psycho are quite common to people suffering with mental illnesses which is really upsetting. The way the words intertwine and suffocate the figure in this illustration shows the powerful nature that these discriminating words can have on people. The bright pink brain with the white accented lines highlights the origins of mental illnesses which people seem to overlook.
3. Project 1 in 4 // Marissa Betley
This minimalist illustration is one of many from Marissa Betley’s Project 1 in 4 which demonstrates how mental illness is still incredibly stigmatised in society today. It is aptly named after the statistic of one in four American adults suffering from a diagnosable mental health condition in a year. This particular illustration shows how dismissive people can be when it comes to mental health. In an email to Huffington Post, Betley stated that “So few are talking about [mental illness] and initiating change,” (Huffington Post 2015). It is so easy to tell someone to just get over it. What people don’t realise is that saying something like that has major repercussions for a mentally ill individual. Through these simple illustrations, Betley is creating greater awareness and breaking down stigma of mental health issues.
4. Float // Christian Hopkins
This emotive and whimsical photography by Christian Hopkins acted as a way to cope with his own clinical depression and are direct reflections of the dark thoughts and feelings in his own mind. This particular photo titled Float, depicts an alternate reality with a surreal quality that reflects his inner thoughts during a depressive state. The masks represent the shields that people put up when suffering from mental illnesses such as depression to avoid addressing the issue. This raw and emotive image is not often translated into articles which are filled with statistics and often assumptions. It demonstrates a first hand experience of mental illness and gives someone with little knowledge of mental health issues an insight into the feelings experienced in such situations.
5. Workplace Stigma // Unknown
This photo depicts the stigma around mental health, particularly in the workplace, and how people feel that they can’t talk about their feelings openly. The fear of discrimination often prevents people from seeking help and support early on. In the context of the workplace, people feel that they can’t talk to their employer or workmates about their mental health condition due to the fear of discrimination. This is shown in this image by using their hand and a post-it note to express their feelings when ideally they should be speaking these words to someone. Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England stated that “…one in six British workers will experience a mental health problem at some point in their career.” (Priory Group 2016). This is a staggering statistic that needs to be addressed in the workplace.
6. Mental Health Illustration // Ella Pena
Mental health issues are invisible illnesses which people often disregard as actual illnesses. This illustration demonstrates the various emotions that people suffering with mental illness can experience without anyone even knowing. It is easy to hide your emotions from people but it shouldn’t be something you have to do every day of your life. By hiding your feelings from people, more often than not you will feel worse in the long run. This is an issue for people suffering with mental health who don’t feel comfortable expressing their feelings.
7. Time to Talk // Stephen Collins
This lighthearted coming strip shows how easy it is to ask someone if they are alright. We backhandedly ask how people are going but don’t really pay attention to the answer or reaction. It is scary having an open conversation about your feelings with someone but it shouldn’t be such a taboo task. Showing two different types of conversations in this humorous comic demonstrate how people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about mental health issues. The light and welcoming colour palette used evokes a feeling of happiness which is quite different compared to other darker toned images in this archive. This image is shining light on the positivity that can arise when people speak openly about their feelings.
8. The Masks // Ing Morath and Saul Steinberg
On the 10th of October, World Mental Health Day is celebrated and the aim of the day is to raise awareness as the social stigma attached to mental disorders can make problems worse. This image is part of a series title The Mask Series from the 1950’s by Inge Morath and The New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg. It portrays how people are affected by discrimination and stigma associated with mental health and how it can have a negative impact on their lives. The idea that “seeing is believing” is prevalent in this image as mental illnesses are not taken as seriously as physical illnesses. The unsettling comic faces drawn on the paper bags demonstrate the stereotype of mentally ill people being “crazy” and the paper bags themselves represent how discrimination suffocated and restricts people in society.
9. Stigma Name Calling // Unknown
This image demonstrates the power of words and the affect that they can have on people. For people suffering with mental illness, they experience words that separate and disfranchise them from other people which promotes more stigma. People suffering from mental illness want to be thought of as a human being, not a label. In this image, the word nutter is written on his peeled off mouth demonstrating how these derogatory words can silence sufferers. As it states on the image, “Stupid names don’t help” which a lot of people don’t realise.
This image demonstrates the power of words and the affect that they can have on people. For people suffering with mental illness, they experience words that separate and disfranchise them from other people which promotes more stigma. People suffering from mental illness want to be thought of as a human being, not a label. In this image, the word nutter is written on his peeled off mouth demonstrating how these derogatory words can silence sufferers. As it states on the image, “Stupid names don’t help” which a lot of people don’t realise.
10. It Could Be You // Darryl Cunningham
This is an excerpt from a five page story about British cartoonist, Darryl Cunningham’s, experience of working on a psychiatric ward. This particular comic strip is about how people judge based on appearance. It also demonstrates the impact that negative words and discrimination can have on someone. In this instance, the man has paranoid schizophrenia and is plagues with horrible names such as weirdo and creepy. This kind of negativity prevents people suffering from mental illness seeking help and recovering. The whole short story also outlines how mental illnesses can be treated and you shouldn’t judge people who are suffering because it could easily be you.
Having began researching various avenues through which designers, photographers and other creatives have contributed to the topic of mental health, I came across an article discussing a designer’s approach to tackling the stigma surrounding open discussion of mental health issues. The project is entitled ‘Let’s Talk About Mental Health’ and was begun by Jessica Walsh after being inspired by her work with Timothy Goodman on another project, ‘12 Kinds of Kindness’.
Hospitals are commonly known for their sterile environment, much like psychiatric wards. Design has the power to shape an environment and evoke emotions. UK artist and activist James Leadbitter has struggled with Mental illness during his lifetime and has been confined to many psychiatric wards under the public health system.
Leadbitter has undertaken a project called “Mad Love: A Designer Asylum”. Although hypothetical, Leadbitter explores through research what a psychiatric ward would look like if it were designed by the patients themselves. In collaboration with Hannah Hull they gathered information from over three hundred patients as well as psychiatrists,architects and designers. Mad Love, was opened up initially at the Foundation of Art and Creative Technology. Major sponsors were James Christian, an architect and a PHD researcher Benjamin Kolosowki. Leadbetter wanted the space to be “playful and exciting” (Slate 2015) with the idea of remodelling what a mental health hospital should appear as.
One of the key elements of the installation is that its design is “inviting” (Slate 2015) so a use of bold colours and textures have been used to create the environment. The design has a diverse range of assets including time that can be spent as a community and private time. For instance, the cooling tower is a modern day take on the padded cell. Completely sound proof, it allows the patient to scream, shout and vent. With its bright red colour and comfortable soft interior it creates a more inviting space for the patient as opposed to a sterile one. As well as the private elements there is a designated discussion area for around two to four people and is painted in pastel pink turkish delight colours. The space is tight-knit with the aim for a close and quiet conversation. The radical concept that Leadbitter is exploring is to make the asylum “safe” (Slate 2015) and challenge the negative stereotypes of mental illness by juxtaposing sensory experiences such as soothing colours, sounds and concepts more akin to a resort such as herbalists and conceptual art therapy mental. In this way mental illness is demystified and can be experienced in a nurturing environment more compatible with healing and less riddled with fear and judgment.
A sketch of the development of the padded cell.(Slate 2015)
The interior of the padded Cell. (Slate 2015)
As well as the physical environment being challenged from traditional stereotypes, there are also a range of programs developed such as drop in sessions, family visits, phone lines, workshops and conceptual art therapy.
Ultimately the idea represents only a microcosm of what needs to be achieved in the mental health system and hopefully with adequate funding, the idea can be fortified and practically implemented.
“A unique space where mutual care blossoms”
Leadbitter’s ultimate goal is to “attempt to create a unique space where mutual care blossoms, stigma and discrimination are actively challenged, divisions understood, and madness can be experienced in a less painful way” (MadLove 2016).
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives. Nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.’ We believe that change has become the defining characteristic of today’s business environment. And that the brands that thrive are those best adapted to manage, capture and leverage change in the world around them.” – Publics London 2016
What happens when quantifiable data lacks effective emotive resonance when creating evocative social change campaigns? Or more importantly, how within the design world, is vast amounts of recorded statistics reformed into a solid creative, emotionally driven outcome. Emergent practices can be the facilitators of such transitions towards creative social innovation. This appears to be the “hot” trend within design studious exploring and tackling issues such as homelessness. To put it simply, it’s no longer just a numbers game, with more and more studios using design thinking to create evocative campaigns that in a sense quantify data through empathetic means. Publicis London is a small creative agency part of a larger, global Publicis umbrella. The agency aims to create unique, irreplaceable and thought provoking ideas within the hands of their clients to “Lead the Change”-Publicis 2016. Teamed up with charity organisation Depaul (UK), Publicis London participated on a number of Service design projects, name-ably “Corner” a 2015 campaign aimed at increasing the number of Volunteers within a Depaul program called Nightstop.
Stigma within and around the Homeless community (weather it be in Sydney or around the world), is a recurring theme for my research. Many evocative design strategies (that are not architectural) aim at changing lingering social Stigmas. In a previous post I mentioned that one of the largest road blocks to Social Change in regards to the Homeless is worryingly consistent social exclusion. With each campaign undertaken by Publicis London in Partnership with Depaul, the studio attempts to create a suitcase of service design collateral that breaks social barriers.
Publicis London use strategic devices to trigger an emotional connection to the familiarity of the thought patterns expressed within the posters. “Corners” is a cleverly written campaign that tells “two sides of the story”. The Nightstop program is a volunteer lead initiative that provides spare beds for homeless youth between the ages of 16-25. “Corner, is a Gureilla Marketing campaign”- Publicis 2016 that fuses the materiality of street art (in particular paste up practice) and marketing. The campaign aims to increase the number of volunteers for this program through the reflection of perception. Pasted up on corners of buildings where they say “youth are most commonly found”-Publicis London 2016, the body copy is split (the left side, when read alone only demonstrating the negative perception towards homeless young people, but once read together in full the message “transforms to show the benefits of becoming a volunteer”- (Publicis 2016) Depaul have an extensive amount of data that Publicis could draw from, statistics relate to the percentages of where this age bracket can be found. It can not be said for sure, however it would appear that Publicis would have had to conduct design related ethnography to get the source material required to write a the copy as to ideas people have about giving up a spare room in their house to homeless youth. The expressive campaign, is also poetic, conveying the feeling of seeing these homeless kids when rounding the corner of a building. Expressing this kind of empathy, Publicis Design would have had to have conducted extensive research not only on the data mine provided by their client, but they would have had to have also done ethnographic exercises to extract an emotive understanding from their audience.
Publicis London aim was to raise awareness and generate more volunteers through service design. Done through intelligent copy writing, guerrilla advertising tactics, and poetic design Depaul UK has stated that “The campaign appeared live on BBC TV News, national radio and over 70 blogs – reaching 6 million people. On a £0 media spend (all sites were donated), total earned media value was £1,589,857.Most importantly the total number of new volunteer enquiries increased by 6100% on the previous month. If all enquirers become volunteers, subject to vetting, it would be equivalent to increasing Nightstop’s London capacity by 50% – helping many young people turn a corner for real.”-Publicis London 2016.
Service design, truely demonstrates that social change comes not only through data examination and exploration but through the evocative nature of understanding the ethnography of the target audience.
Canadian studio, Blok Design, has been collaborating with other thinkers, creators, companies and brands from all over the world since 1998. They typically do projects that blend cultural awareness, a passion for art and a strong belief in humanity. Their aim as a design studio is to “…create indelible experiences that profoundly affect people and in some way help expand their understanding of the world around them.” (Blok 2012).
In 2012, Blok Design worked with Partners for Mental Health to come up with an idea to improve mental health and awareness in Canada for their month-long campaign “Not Myself Today”. The Partners for Mental Health are also based in Canada and create public engagement and strategic initiatives in order to transform the way Canadians think, act and support people living with mental illness. Through the campaign “Not Myself Today” and in partnership with Blok Design, they created awareness of mental health through the creation of a “mood wall” which was a high-impact installation situated in a heavily travelled intersection in Toronto. The wall is covered in various, brightly coloured pins with different moods and feelings written on them. They then got people on the street to literally “…wear their emotions on their sleeves” (My Modern Met 2012) for the whole world to see.
The main aims of this interaction design were to engage people, encourage pledges/ donations for the “Not Myself Today” campaign and to encourage an open dialogue on mental health issues. As Blok Design themselves said “The bold rainbow of colours acted as a lightning rod, drawing people in, while the simple act of selecting their mood sparked dialogue, released stories and inspired hundreds of pledges of support.” (Block 2012). This interaction design also challenged the stigma related to mental health by stimulating an open conversation about it amongst the community. They created a high visible, yet comfortable space for people to express and show their true feelings to the world without being judged.
The technologies used for this design project were simple as the idea was conveyed strongly through the final outcome. By using variation in colour for each mood/feeling, it is easy for the audience to identity and interact with them and makes the overall massage very clear. Once pins have been taken from the wall, it is clear to see which moods people feel the most and which moods people don’t experience. This is a fun and clear way of visualising the emotions of people in the area and a smart way a gauging people’s mental health.
It may not be the most sophisticated or technical piece of interaction design, but Blok Design have successfully engaged people in the design and opened a dialogue about mental health issues and stigma in Canada.
Stigma surrounding mental health in Australia is unjustified and debilitating for sufferers of mental illnesses and also for the conversation surrounding mental health. Perceptions of negativity regarding those suffering from mental illnesses, which ultimately stems from a lack of understanding and education, hinders our community’s collective ability to openly discuss mental health issues without prejudice. I formed this understanding from the in depth research conducted in Post 1 and have traced this overarching theme in two scholarly articles regarding addiction and more specifically gambling addiction.
In an article published by the Australian Government’s Institute of Family Studies earlier this month, the issue of stigma is addressed through a review of recent ‘E-Mental Health’ services. Being a government published article, we can treat it as reliable and trustworthy however potentially bias towards the predicted success of the services reviewed as they are government implemented services.
Regardless of this however, the article speaks of the ability of anonymity via E-Mental services thus allowing for sufferers of mental illnesses such as gambling addiction to by pass the stigma associated with speaking up on face to face situations.
E-mental health interventions allow problem gamblers to self-manage their gambling in a setting that can be anonymous, private, convenient and immediate.
Whilst this does alleviate the pain stigma causes for some individuals, it sees an overlooking of the issue of how we as a nation are going to eliminate stigma. E-Mental Health has been proven to be beneficial but does not assist in the need for open, regular and non-stigmatised community discussion.
Following on from this, sensitivity to language regarding mental health used in society and the media also plays are huge role in influencing conversation and openness. The 172 page resource kit that was issued by the Australian Government in 1999 to help media professionals write about suicide and mental illnesses exemplifies how sensitive how community has become to hearing and reading about mental illness. Whilst of course some sensitivity and caution needs to be taken when discussing fatal suicide actions and the like, it is important that we can still discuss such issues and not merely be mute. This is addressed in the resource kit and follows a similar train of thought to the article I cited in Post 1 about how journalists should talk about suicide.
Both pieces of government material examine how stigma and sensitivity to language effect our ability to engage in conversation about mental health in our communities however I feel that from my attempted research, there is a broad gap in the academic community regarding the issues in Australia and thus I myself must launch into American academic papers to further my understanding of the issue.
The article How Australia should deal with asylum seekers (2016) by Eva Orner and Steve Glass is a thorough research presenting the statistics on Australia’s participation on providing new homes and protection toward refugees. Judging by their profiles, both writers are actively engage with refugees and have a passion to stand for the right of asylum seekers. Orner is an Academy & Emmy award Australian film maker and her recent film ‘Chasing Asylum‘ is screening in cinema now while Glass is a partner in a law firm who also has a huge role in The Asylum Seeker Centre in Sydney.
This article reveals how Australian has made the asylum seeker resettlement a big problem to the country, yet Australia only welcomes 3% of the total global asylum seekers. The idea of boat people invading Australian is only manufactured by politicians.
Australia doesn’t feature anywhere near the top 10, or even the top 30 most generous countries – not even when you repeat the calculation on a per capita or per dollar basis.
Eva aims to bring new hope and spirit for refugees that have been neglected and mistreated in Nauru Island and at the same time inspires us to take an action as an individual to battle the prejudice toward asylum seekers. The facts and thorough information presented in this article have successfully convinced me to take side on her view. Glass also underlined that the government failed to fulfil the promise to increase the refugee intake. I agree that Australian Government should practice more humane policy to asylum seekers by giving them a fair go.
Turning Away Refugees Won’t Fight Terrorism
My next article titled Turning away refugees won’t fight terrorism, and might make it worse (2016) is written by Nick Stockton who is a regular contributor for WIRED magazine. Looking at his past articles, Stockton’s writing explores various ideas on how technology can shape many aspects in politics, social and environment. The title itself is quite provoking and Nick further extends it by questioning the American’s response to Paris’s bomb attack that involved Syrian refugees. Syrian passport holders are now officially blocked to enter American border. Nick challenges the to practically think about whether such action will stop terrorism.
The article is supported with well conducted research and observation on recent world situations He has conducted several interviews with researchers and psychologists that have a great deal of experience in refugees.
Judging by the choice of the wording, Nick heavily downplays on American bureaucracy. I agree that not all refugees are criminal and dangerous, the mindset and response each individual has toward a certain situation, in this case asylum seeker is very unique and beyond human control. However, Stockton successfully brought this matter into light and opened a new perspective on how we should perceive asylum seekers.
Who Is to Blame?
Published in Herald Sun Melbourne my next article Muslim migration in France opens door to terror has a totally opposite view from the previous article that heavily takes side on refugees. This article is written by Andrew Bolt, who has been a permanent writer, journalist and editor for quite a long time. Bolt emphasises that the roots of terrorism are due to the openness of European countries when it comes to welcoming Muslim refugees from Middle East countries. He provides a statistic of a huge population of Muslims In France and Greece due to the growing intake of refugees. This action, by his judgement, has led the European countries’ safety into jeopardy and calls for reconsidering their immigration policy.
This article is quite biased because he links the attack happened in Australia involving Muslim refugees with general Muslims residing in Europe. He directly blames Muslims as the main cause of terrorism, even though he mentioned that not all Muslims are dangerous in some part of his overwhelming response toward terrorism in Europe. His harsh tone has worsened the stigma toward Muslims This Islam-phobia means the journey for Muslim refugees seeking protection will be a lot harder than it is now.
The next article falls into editorial by Kon Karapanagiotios, the founder and chief executive of The Asylum Seeker Centre in Australia. Titled Time to embrace the potential refugee offers Australia tells a story of his struggle as a migrant who did not speak a single word of English. His story is a wake up call which reminds us that refugees are just normal people like us and deserves to be treated respectfully and with dignity. The article is a true story, leaving quite a biased tone from Kon on how he views Australia Government and its treatment toward refugees.
Kon aims to correct the misperception of refugees coming to Australia to seek prosperity when they actually risk prosecution in their home country. He underlined the fear of invasion from boat people has no base. The fact that Australian Government did not give refugees an access to school and work raise a question how they can steal jobs. His article has sad and desperate tone, however Kon encourages us to view refugees and multiculturalism from a positive angle. Even though the rejection of refugees is still high, I believe there is so much potential and contribution they could offer when the opportunity is given.
This article Folly of treating all refugees as would-be terrorists solves neither problem (2016) demonstrating the connection between Muslim refugees and the fear of terrorism that follows. Refugees at the moment is one of the biggest concern throughout the world especially with the war in the Middle East countries which seems to reach no end. This journal is written by Michael Humpley, a professor of Sociology and Social Policy from the University of Sydney. Looking at his previous researches, Humpley has done numerous articles on social change in specificly refugees, multiculturalism, law and human rights. His article explores Muslim cultural identity and past terrorism attack by ISIS that has lead to reluctant behaviour of many countries to welcome Muslim refugees.
In his opinion, Australia’s strategy to complicate asylum seeker requirements to enter this country is not the solution to stop terrorism and highlights that refugees matter and counter terrorism should fall in the same space.
By offering only temporary residence and making Australia a less attractive destination, it makes deterrence the aim of the entire refugee program.
This article provides a very detailed information where Humpleyl links his argument to relevant international news and his research on ‘Islam in West’. His tone is quite subtle yet his stance argument on defending refugees has bring this issue to light. Whilst I agree the prejudice against refugees should reconcile with the bitter stigmatisation of Muslim to create a possibly more opens policy, it appears that the tough asylum seeker policy is unlikely to change.
Flooded with controversial views on refugees that I originally knew nothing about, has now motivated me to dig deeper into this matter. The problem of unbalance number of global refugees and the resettlement place has hit the roof and I believe this is not something that a country should deal alone, whether it is happening in Australia or Europe. Our world is connected deeply, what happen in the other side of the border will resonates here. We are facing a serious international problem and should unite to continue to tackle this from every angle.