We are very excited to be partnering with London’s Design Museum for a new higher education talk series called ‘Design Change Makers’. The first in the series will be a special event focusing on mental health. Among our various speakers we have Lucy Cripps who’s mental health won a Creative Conscience award in 2017. Below she writes about her experience. Unfortunately, tickets are now sold out to the event.
For the Creative Conscience Awards I wanted to create a project that could help people with their mental health as well as to help end the stigma towards having a mental illness. I decided to look at the importance of children’s mental health and how encouraging children from a young age to learn how to manage and understand negative emotions could allow them to grow up unashamed to feel anxious, sad or angry. I created an interactive children’s learning and wellbeing exercise book that can help improve a child’s (and adult’s) mental health through breathing exercises, diary entries, and worry trees. The book aims to help children learn to feel comfortable expressing emotions that might be bottled up inside, whether that is by writing it down on paper or speaking to someone you trust. The cover is blank for the child to decorate and personalise however they like using the stickers provided. There are tabs down the side for the child to quickly turn to a page when caught up in an emotion that they urgently want to express or ease.
The exercises within the book can be used from childhood through to adulthood. Feeling comfortable talking about negative feelings such as worry, sadness or anger could bring us a few steps closer to feeling less ashamed talking about mental health problems. I used 4 characters in the book to help visualise the techniques and to give the child a character to feel comfortable with and relate to. One of my main design decisions was to specifically have young male characters throughout the book shown in vulnerable situations such as crying and feeling worried. I wanted to do this to show young boys that sadness and worrying is not a sign of weakness in males, which could help a lot of men and young boys feel more comfortable talking to someone about negative feelings and for them to get the help they need for a mental illness. Male suicide rates are around 3 times higher than females in the UK.
Since I have graduated I have been working on improving some areas of the book, one being designing a front cover that would stand out more on the shelves. The cover can then be taken off when purchased for the child to personalise the blank cover underneath using the stickers provided. I have also been designing some new characters to add to the book which includes disabled children, and I have added a new section on ‘Love’ which helps children learn to love themselves for who they are. My next step is to have my book published and accessible to as many children as possible all over the world, and to be sold in book shops and schools. I have had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from friends, colleagues and professionals so far and I really hope to help a lot of children with this book.
As creatives we have a lot of power to change the way people view a subject matter, which is why the relationship between design and mental health is so important. It could help save lives! I have created a few other mental health related projects whilst I was at uni. For the ‘On The Cards‘ competition for Paper Rose and G.F Smith, I created a series of mental health cards titled ‘A Little Light’ for which I was Commended. The cards are to give to someone who is suffering from a mental illness. I wanted to make these cards to spread awareness of mental health problems as well as giving people some helpful words to say, as many people do not know what to say or say the wrong things. Each card uses colours that help bring feelings of calm and are scented with citrus fruit smells that help relax the body and mind and can bring positive feelings. Each card can then be unfolded and glued together to form a 3D shape used as a little bedside lamp when a phone light or LED candle/tealight is placed underneath it. The light shines through different patterns on the sides and shines a reminder on the ceiling that repeats the message on the front of the card, e.g – You Matter. I have also made a hand painted stop frame animation that helps to visualise a speech about creating an NHS Health Social Movement. The animation follows the story of a bee that has an unhealthy lifestyle, who then begins to make changes to his life to become happier and healthier. You can view the animation on my website: luladesignandillustration.com
My future goals are to keep using my illustration and design skills to create projects that I feel extremely passionate about and can help people. I am currently working as a Junior Creative at children’s arts and crafts company Baker Ross, but in my spare time I am still working on my own projects and being commissioned for small illustration jobs. On the 28th Feb I will be part of the panel at the Design Change Makers: Mental Health talk at the Design Museum in London. I am super excited about taking part in this event and speaking about designing for mental health alongside incredibly talented creatives.