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 Scott Carroll who’s mental health project was shortlisted for the 2017 awards. Below he writes about his experience. Tickets are now sold out to the event.
As a student and someone who was directly impacted by the effects of mental health, I knew the Creative Conscience platform was an opportunity for me to share my story and hopefully impact change in the way society perceives mental illness and suicide in men. The brief was to create positive impact, but I wanted to do more than that, it was important to me that it was reality based impact because I needed to show the reality of facing and living with a mental illness.
In 2016 I lost my Dad by suicide because of his battle with depression, it was something I had never dealt with prior to him taking his life. Mental health related issues was a topic I knew very little about, I saw my dad getting worse and worse as he would often have spells of isolating himself from family. It was hard to watch but he would eventually come around, however the last spell he didn’t come around, and he ended his battle with depression by doing what he thought was the only solution. At the time I didn’t understand the severity of what he was going through. Looking back I wish we both had the strength to talk about it but we never did, and that is something that I have to live with. Studying graphic design at Sheffield Institute of Arts I knew the only way for me to understand the devastation of what happened was to create a project surrounding the topic (one month after it happened so emotions were still raw), it was my opportunity to research and understand what he went through and why there is a massive stigma surrounding men and mental illness/suicide. Men have this feeling they need to ‘man up’, when in reality we shouldn’t ‘man up’ we should speak up about mental health, society has made this difficult for us.
The process of my ‘Mens mental health and suicide’ project was difficult, emotionally it was challenging. I was starting to understand why he did what the did, I also learnt things about my own mental health issues (something I wasn’t aware of before this project). I used case studies to understand what men go through, the stigma surrounding men and mental health and the reasons we feel isolated and disconnected from those we love the most. My immediate question was, where I can position the campaign and how it might impact people? I knew that London is a city that never sleeps, instantly drawing connection to the effects of mental illness. If I was to share my campaign in tube stations people would take notice, we often have 30 seconds were the world stops, we often find ourselves staring at the advertising boards on the way up the escalators. Why not use his space to help people, impact the way society see’s mental health, let the people digest information and act if needed. The problem with these advertising spaces is that they are often used for highly commercial purposes when there are important topics that would benefit from being shown there.
The impact of the project had to be reality based, I knew the only way I could truly describe how men feel when experiencing mental illness was to show imagery that was shocking, relatable and informational. The reaction of the project has been unbelievable, knowing my project has impacted change in the way people see mens mental health is something I never expected, and giving people a reminder it’s ok to not be ok. I am grateful to have my project shared on design blogs such as Abduzeedo and Project 1345 by Adobe and even more thankful that I have been asked to share my story with Creative Conscience and the Design Museum. The project was hard hitting, suicide is unimaginable until you experience it first hand, but the project is about sharing what its like to be at the lowest point, I am grateful for the support it has received, if it helps one person or helps someone to speak up about their issues then the project was worth the emotional pain I went through creating it.
Designing for mental health is important, it is our jobs as creatives to put a positive impact on a subject that is dark and misunderstood. Using our creative solutions to highlight what is important and share it with our audiences is so important and I think the work of MIND (mental health charity) do design and impact exceptionally well. Their brand image is recognisable, their relation to their audience is evidently strong and they provide positivity through hard times. As a designer I am in a position where I can impact change through my work, that’s what is important when designing for mental health. Times are changing, society is slowly becoming more aware of the taboo surrounding mental health and suicide and it’s our jobs as creative’s to push this further.
I have recently graduated from university and I am ready to get stuck into an inspiring industry of graphic design. My passion is branding and providing an identity that holds values and signals change. I have been lucky to intern at SomeOne, an industry leader based in Shoreditch. Throughout university I used their line “brand opinions, add value, signal change and shape the future”, it speaks for all I believe in with design, therefore working with SomeOne has given me great motivation to work in this field. This ties in to my future goals, I want to learn as a creative, use experience from others and to get better as a designer, and start to really develop my conceptual thinking to design for change. Although I have learnt a lot since being in London, the thing I have been most thankful for with this opportunity and moving South is as someone with depression, and anxiety I realised a new place is better for your mental health, it gives you the opportunity to meet new people and experience new things, its refreshing and allows you to start again.
The Design Change Makers: Mental Health talk is going to be a great platform to share my story and journey with mental health and suicide. I want people to understand that using creative solutions you can impact people, you can inspire change even if the topic is hard to understand and connect with. The Creative Conscience team are doing amazing things to promote positive impact and I am honoured to be part of it! If you are a student or recent graduate use this event to inspire a new project, come to the Design Museum on the 28th February and get involved! Lets use this platform to change perceptions of mental illness and suicide. I hope this talk can help people, inspire people and motivate people to work on their own takes on mental health/ suicide projects because we as young creatives can be a catalyst for change and conversation.