More Than Appearance
This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.
I first decided to work on stigmas surrounding mental illnesses (specifically in high school settings) towards the beginning of the GOA course when we interviewed professionals in our communities. I interviewed a lady who works at a local school helping students with mental health needs. This got me interested in delving deeper into mental illnesses within high schools. Being a high school student who has dealt with mental illnesses myself, I feel confident that I can effectively complete this project. This issue has been raised throughout the country, and students have spoken up and created programs addressing them. NAMI, a prominent mental health alliance, has this page addressing the issue: NAMI.
The above infographic shows the impact of mental illnesses in high school. The stigmas in and out of school prevent students from getting help and addressing the issue. Before we work with mental illnesses, we must address the stigmas attached.
The challenge here is to educate high school students, busting the stigmas they associate with mental illnesses. When I talked with a mental health provider in a local high school for the empathy interviews, she emphasized how important and rampant the stigmas are in the schools. Students feel like they cannot use the mental health resources available, because of the way others view them. I understand this, as I have gone through this process myself. My challenge – reducing mental illness stigmas in high schools – is extremely important. Working on this challenge has the potential to save lives. If stigmas are reduced, students may see the option to get help without being judged. The user, a high school student with some mental illness, will be relieved with others being more understanding and educated.
I interviewed Nancy Schub – a licensed social worker, who works as a mental health care giver in the teen health center of a local Seattle school.
Main Points Gathered:
- Mental health stigmas within high schools are rampant, so students feel like they can’t use the mental health resources available to them. Students make the assumption that if you’re going to the health center, there’s something wrong with you, you’re a failure, or you’re in some sort of trouble.
- The school Nancy Schub works at has tried to resolve this issue by changing the location of the mental health center, and combining the building with the nurse, so it is ambiguous whether someone is getting help for a headache or cut, or depression or anxiety.
- Ideas to help:
- Talk to people
- Ask questions
- Turn around the idea that talking to someone is a weakness/issue – it is strong for someone to get help
- Make getting help feel normal, like getting help for a broken arm – fix your insides, not just your physical body
I see a solution to mental health stigmas in high schools being a video. My idea is to show a video regarding mental health stigmas and present it at a high school assembly. After the showing, students will split up in smaller groups, each with a student facilitator, and discuss what they thought about the film and the topic of mental health stigmas in their high school.
An example of a video is: Video.
This video, while I am not too sure how appropriate it would be to show at a school assembly, is also a good one: Video.
My most recent prototype, is a storyboard:
Many teens suffer with mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety. These teens feel like they need to hide this or they will be judged.
Most high schools have assemblies once a week. A time for important messages to be announced to everyone.
One day a video regarding mental illnesses is presented. Teachers are instructed to ensure the attention of the students. The video’s goal is to break stigmas associated with mental illnesses. It has interactive sections as well.
The students listen intently.
The students who have mental illnesses feel very supported and understood. They are happy this is being talked about and the truths are coming out.
The students who believe all the stigmas they hear are surprised, and are happy to be educated. They even feel bad and ashamed for all the false ideas they’ve had.
After the video is shown, students meet in groups with facilitators who have pre-written discussion questions, and talk about what they’ve learned and how to proceed.
Now students feel they can talk more openly and understand one another, and can spread this awareness and bring change to other schools and communities.
Any feedback, questions, or comments would be greatly appreciated! In our GOA Abnormal Psychology course, we were taught how to give good feedback using Design Thinking. So, please ask your questions in the form of “What if….? How might we….? I wonder…..?”. My next steps in this project will be to suggest my idea to my school’s counselors, as well as the principal. Maybe in the coming years they can put my idea to action and make a change in our community. Please, let me know if you want to help me in the future of this process!