Hi, my name is Kevin Fitzsimons. MYND is a hypothetical organization I created for my MFA Graphic Design thesis project. Below is a summary of the project's overarching concept and the final deliverables. If you're interested in the full design process, including research stages and more information on each deliverable, there is a link to my full thesis book at the bottom of the page. Thanks for visiting this site. I hope you like what you see.
The number of teenagers suffering from mental health issues is at a record high. The majority of them do not receive any treatment, and most of those who do are receiving insufficeint or incorrect treatment. Those record highs are also increasing at record rates. While there have long been campaigns from numerous third party organizations focused on spreading awareness, awareness is only the first step. Without a real understanding of the subject matter, and its impact, no real action can be taken. That’s what I want to do. I want to help teenagers and young adults to take that second step, to really understand the problem, so they take action against it.
The existing dialogue on teen mental health is innefective and failing. The conversation is held by adults observing the problem from a distance, not those living with, and fighting, these conditions on a daily basis. National standards for health education don't even mention mental health, focusing entirely on physical health. Why, when suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the US, are teens not being taught about their own mental health and how to maintain it? Between the tragic lack of information and the stigma that surrounds mental illness, a teenager, especially one struggling with severe anxiety or depression, cannot be expected to figure out what they are up against, know what to do about it, and make the first move to get help. Yet, somehow, that is what's currently expected of them.
The MYND App is a social app designed to be a safe platform for teenagers and young adults to engage in conversations about mental health, whether their own or more generally. The current conversation on the issue is had by adults rather than the individuals at the center of it. MYND wants those being talked about to be the ones leading the conversation, but there has to be a space where that can happen. This app is designed to be that space.
For teens and young adults, what is most beneficial for their mental health is going to vary from person to person. For some they will want a place to express themselves and vent, which they can do by posting to the wall. For others they wont want to post at all, just read the posts of others as a way to keep reminding themselves they are not alone and others are going through the same, or similar, experiences. Both of those are perfectly fine if that’s what helps the individual. Others may not use the wall at all. The user may ignore the wall function completely and only engage in direct conversations. It’s possible they just have questions and would like to get direct answers. Others may sit on the other side of those conversations. Some individuals may have gone through their own mental health issues, come out the other side, and want to help others who haven’t yet.
We Magazine is designed to teach teenagers about the experience of living with mental health issues. Medical and scientific information on mental illnesses is readily available on the internet and my target audience is more than capable of finding that information on their own. Unfortunately that information, because of it’s clinical nature, is hard to relate to. What my audience likely will not be able to find on their own are real people, living with mental health struggles, who are also willing and able to talk about it. It is normal for those with mental illness to feel alone in their struggles. Hearing about those shared, relatable, experiences is crucial to understanding that help is out there, available and willing.
The "Stomp Out Stigma" campaign is intended to push the issue of teenage mental illness into the forefront of people's minds by being big, bold, and unavoidable. We don't need more awareness. Everyone knows depression is a thing, whether they've knowingly seen it or not. What we need is a real understanding of the issue. The stigma around mental illness is the single greatest obstacle between teenagers, and young adults, struggling with their mental health and the help they need to overcome those struggles. We need to kill stigma and normalize the topic, because, when one in five Americans has a mental illness, and 75% of those first manifest before the individual turns 17, it is normal. We need to put mental health on equal footing with physical health, stop shying away from the topic, and teach students about it in their health classes. Just talk about it. That's the first step to taking control of it.
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The website for MYND (mymynd.org) is the home base for the organization. All other deliverables will have a presence of some kind on the website. But how will the website differentiate itself from those other deliverables? What will be included on the website that is not included anywhere else? The answer is the kind of information available.
Where as We Magazine focuses on educating it’s readers on the experience of living with mental illness, the website will provide more medically focused information. For those who are struggling with their mental health, that content of the magazine won’t be enough to actually begin recovery. The medical information is neccessary for treatment and recovery, so I want to make sure they can get a lot of that information from a source they trus; that source being MYND.
Hi, my name is Kevin Fitzsimons and MYND is my MFA thesis project. I've been asked a lot why I chose this topic for a graphic design thesis project. The answer is that I've had a lot of interaction with mental illness in my life; through both friends and family living with one mental health issue or another. I've seen people hit rock bottom and I've seen people completely conquer what they're dealing with. Seeing people I care about go through that sucks, but I'm thankful for the perspective it's given me. I hope this project can help others gain some of that same perspective, and maybe encourage someone who is struggling to seek out, or accept, help.
Thanks for taking the time to check out MYND.
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