My topic of choice for the Google Engage project is mental health and mental health awareness. After all the previous work, researching and deciding on the subjects, I dug deeper into the statistics and currently available information about mental health problems and mental health awareness campaigns.To gather and efficiently format all this research, we used a Google product, Google slides, to create our own presentations which will later become our own project “briefs”.
Mental health awareness isn’t a topic that’s discussed as widely as pollution, consumerism, LGBT rights or healthy eating habits. Only a very small portion of government funding goes into mental health research, mental health resources and treatments are very understaffed and underfunded, making it very difficult for people who want to reach out to actually gain access to these often crucial services. The rates of mental illnesses in young people are skyrocketing, but the stigma associated with it isn’t exactly helping either – people will often refuse to reach out for help due to fear of judgement by others. People who have never dealt with mental illnesses often don’t understand that it’s a health issue just like any other and it’s not made up for attention or to excuse one’s laziness. There are even ad campaigns that stress the fact that none of this is made up, such as these:
Others take a different approach, suggesting that people should communicate about their feelings more with others, such as this one (which I think is absolutely brilliant! Not only does it encourage people to talk and express their feelings, but also uses words and visuals in a very clever way.)
So then I went on to analyse some campaigns and advertisements that were used as posters and banners rather than video ones.
As my research shows, you can go wrong with mental health awareness campaigns – the wrong design, not enough thought, negative connotations and wrongly selected imagery can make or break your campaign. Some key points to consider for such a campaign are the proper use of visual elements: the visual language, visual narrative and visual metaphors. It’s not nearly enough to slap on a couple sad faces or an awareness ribbon on your banner or poster, there has to be a lot more thought put into it. Some imagery is widely overused in such campaigns and over time becomes boring, dull and will not draw the viewer’s eye anymore, so you have to constantly look back on what has already been done to innovate and improve.
My end goal is to create an innovative yet simple outcome that encourages people to really think about their own feelings and emotions, to evaluate their mental health on a conscious level and make a choice to seek help and get on the path of a healthier, happier, more successful life.