This is a guest blog post by Ella Wiggans, Account Director at We Are What We Do, one of the 2013-14 RSA Student Design Awards partners.
Mental health is a major issue affecting the UK population. 25% of people in Britain will experience mental health problems every year. It costs the NHS a great deal and causes billions in lost earnings from sick days every year. Approximately half of mental health issues are ‘common mental disorders’, such as depression and anxiety.
As part of a partnership with Nominet Trust, we are applying our model of social innovation to the issue of mental health, and very excitingly, we have been lucky enough to develop a brief for the RSA Student Design Awards on this topic.
Last week, We Are What We Do’s Creative Director Tori Flower and I helped to run a workshop at the RSA, for 35 students who were working on our brief, to help them use and understand our approach to behaviour change, around the issue of mental health.
Recent trends in psychology have focused not only on treating these ‘common mental disorders’, but also on preventing them. Just as we should live healthy lifestyles even when we are physically well, so as to build up resilience and lower our chances of becoming physically unwell, similarly, psychologists say we should practice certain activities in order to lessen the chances of us developing mental illnesses. This is what our brief and the workshop explores.
We began by looking at the difference between and importance of explicit messaging that tells people what to do, and implicit, facilitative products and services that offer practical solutions and facilitate new, positive behaviours, embed habits and appeal to a mainstream audience. These facilitative products and services enable action, reducing the drop-off between awareness and tangible, sustained changes in behaviour, and help the users of that product or service to make improvements to social and environmental issues, without being nagged into making a change.
Once we’d grasped that, Tori moved on to explore 5 key activities that can build resilience and promote good mental health. These are:
Spending time with the people you love - friends, family, colleagues, and neighbours
Being active - doing a physical activity you enjoy
Learning something - stretching yourself, rediscovering an old interest or trying something new
Doing something for someone else - being part of a team, helping someone out, thinking of others
Looking around you - thinking beyond your internal thoughts, appreciating what you’re doing and noticing the world around you
The students were then split into 5 groups, each looking at one of these behaviours and were asked to use our approach to design a product or service that facilitates the positive behaviour, and therefore help people to embed positive mental health activities into their daily lives. We were looking for a solution that sneaks these positive behaviours into a product or service that isn’t overtly associated with improving one’s mental health.
We were really impressed with the energy and enthusiasm in the room and by the innovative ideas the teams came up with in the short period of time we allocated for the task. We can’t wait to see the submissions in Spring next year.
We recently Celebrated the winners of the Student Design Awards and the Pupil Design Awards 2022, at our ‘Designing our futures’ event. Learn about our awardees and their innovative designs.
Our 2019/20 Student Design Awards briefs have launched! Nine real-world challenges rooted in big societal problems, open to higher education students and recent graduates around the world.