Mental health is extremely important and is still not spoken about enough. Many Irish students are faced with various mental health issues and the lack of support and help available makes it harder for them to cope. I am focusing on the theme of Mental Health so I can try to help students deal with and overcome their mental health problems so that they can live a happier and healthier life.
My target audience for my project is students. My reasoning behind this is that having good mental health is vital for students growing up so they are able to cope with whatever is thrown at them and allow them to be happy with themselves and their lives. Also the stress and pressure of school and college can impact their lives dramatically. Research shows that one in five young adults in Ireland aged between 19-24 experience mental health problems. (Source: Irish Independent) These figures are quite alarming, and it is clear that more help and awareness is needed for students.
Treatment 1 – App
The first medium I am going to focus on for my treatment is an app. The reason why I feel an app would be a good medium to use is because apps are very accessible. According to statistics in 2015, up to 70% of the Irish population own a smartphone, with 41% of 16-24 year olds being connected during every waking hour of the day. (Source: Silicon Republic) It’s obvious that many young people own a smartphone and use apps daily. Also, since smartphones are portable, you can bring them with you anywhere – so no matter where the person is, they can easily access the app and use it whenever they need it.
The main concept of the app would be to focus on helping students who are experiencing mental health problems. The areas I would like to explore are:
- Breathing exercises – the app can include breathing exercises that will help you calm down if you are angry, annoyed, upset or just want to relieve stress.
- Meditation – different types of meditation can be included when you need to relax, unwind or also calm down from a long day, or help improve your mood throughout the day.
- Panic attacks – if the user is in the middle of a panic attack, they can open the app and there will be a step by step process that will help to relieve the panic attack and help the user to calm down and feel better. This could also be used to help lessen future panic attacks.
- Thought diaries – the app could contain journal entries where you can write down your thoughts, positive and negative aspects of your day, what you were happy about, what you can improve on, and more. This could be done in written form by typing on the keyboard or also through recordings by using the microphone on the device, as sometimes you can feel better by saying it aloud rather than just writing it down.
An approach to the app I would like to avoid is “grimness”. Of course it is a serious topic and it is very important, however I don’t want it to be too grim where it wouldn’t attract people to use it. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be too colourful and “happy” either, it needs to be balanced. I will take all this into consideration when designing the app, if it is the medium I choose to go along with.
I have researched a few mental health apps already and from my research I’ve found that there are apps for each aspect of the app I propose to do (i.e. an app solely for meditation, an app for panic attacks, etc.) but there isn’t one app that contains all these features, and this is where I feel the app will work well. Also, there isn’t a mental health app that contains all these features designed specifically for students.
Treatment 2 – Website
Recapping on my strengths, the second approach I would like to do is a website. I have always loved web design & development from the beginning of the course, and my skills have progressed throughout the years. We haven’t really done much website related things since second year, so doing a website will not only refresh my skills, but will also improve my skills and help me learn new things.
Again, since my target audience is students, the website will be aimed at them. Earlier I mentioned that 41% of 16-24 year olds in Ireland are connected online during every waking hour of the day. (Source: Silicon Republic) This statistic shows that most young people spend the majority of their day using the internet, which of course will include websites. From my own experience, I look at websites the majority of the time on a mobile, so I have to take into account that my website must be mobile friendly and be as effective on mobile devices as it would be on a desktop.
The key idea of the website would differ slightly from my first approach as I don’t think the concept for the app would work as well on a website. So instead, I was thinking of mixing two ideas – an info-graphic website, which will also include some of the ideas I had for the app, such as breathing exercises and steps to relieve panic attacks. This concept will help people become more aware of mental health and learn more about it, while also helping people who have mental health issues to deal with them.
The info-graphic part of the site will include relevant statistics regarding mental health among young people in Ireland. It may include some other things, such as:
- The effects of mental health – how both positive and negative mental health affects your mind, your physical health, your career, and relationships
- The stresses of mental health & the cures – tips on how to turn the stresses into cures that’ll help improve your overall mental health
- Warning signs & symptoms – common signs & symptoms of mental health problems will be listed to help inform people who may be experiencing any of these symptoms
- Coping with your mental health – this will include breathing exercises, helping with panic attacks, and tips on how to fight your mental health problems, etc.
- Services – local and national services will be listed for those who need professional help or if they are looking for someone to talk to.
In relation to the style of the website, it should be visually appealing, especially as there will be a lot of information. If lots of info is just thrown on a website, it won’t entice the user to stay on the page and continue to read. It needs to be clear and concise without being too boring. From studying web design, I’ve learned that users skim rather than read things on websites so I will have to take that into account when designing the site. I have looked at a few info-graphics about mental health to get an idea of what looks good and what doesn’t. They are visually appealing while also giving important information at the same time.
Treatment 3 – Campaign
The final approach I would like to do is a campaign. I studied digital marketing last semester and I really enjoyed it and thought I was quite good at it. Doing a campaign would be a good way to improve my skills and gain more experience in that area, as I may consider doing digital marketing after college.
When done well, campaigns are so effective and can send out an important message. I chose to do a campaign as one of my approaches because personally, I feel there hasn’t been a really strong campaign based on Mental Health for students in ITB, or even anywhere in Ireland. Also, students use social media daily, so it’s a very effective tool to use when creating a campaign.
The concept of the campaign would differ from the app and the website, as they are more focused on helping students deal with their mental health, whereas the campaign will mostly be focused on raising awareness and letting people know that it is okay to have these issues and that there is always someone to talk to.
Overall, the campaign may include a range of different things, such as:
- Posters – these posters can include information about mental health, tips, and factual information/statistics about mental health in Ireland. They will be visually appealing and will catch the attention of the students.
- Videos – short videos talking about different areas of mental health (anxiety, depression, etc.), information about mental health and it also could include people talking about their battle with mental health.
- Social media – sites like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram will be used to promote the campaign, inform students and give tips on how to cope.
- Events – organising events in college that will address mental health that’ll let people know more about it and be fun for everyone, such as a Tea and Talk session, or something similar to bringing puppies into the college.
The one thing I have to consider with the campaign is that it must be effective, or else it won’t work. I need to do a lot of research and figure out how I can make it stand out and really get people interested and talking about it.
The style of the campaign has to relate to the effectiveness of it. If it’s boring, dull and uninteresting, it won’t work so I need to make sure it’s appealing and gives the right amount of information without it being too cluttered.