Take the Bandaid Off
The population of Connecticut College and our depression-loving, stress-glorifying culture are not easily accepting of problems with mental health. As Kevin Breel said, “We are so accepting of any body part breaking down, besides our brain” (TEDx: Confessions of a Depressed Comic). College in particular is a time of much change and adjustment to a more independent life style. The balancing of academics, social life, and career plans is quite demanding. Most college students rely on a network of friends, family, and mentors for support. However, if this network is not comfortable speaking about mental health issues because of the associated stigmas, then what are students to do?
A three part project was designed to help mitigate the stigma of mental health on the Connecticut College campus by combining art, social awareness, and action. From conceptualization, the project was meant to be temporary and fleeting. When we become accustomed to seeing something, it stops standing out. We hoped to create action, discussion, and immediacy by limiting the time which installations were displayed. This involved giving students resources, bringing their attention to the issues, and starting a dialogue.
The first phase of the project was designed to bring attention to the issue of mental health on campus. This was done through a poster campaign with the slogan “it’s time to take the bandaid off mental health” and a depiction of the human brain. Most brochures available in the Student Counseling Services office are trite and childish, and a redesign was necessary in order destigmatize taking a brochure.
For Phase Two, the same graphics were used to connect this project to the brochure and poster. The ideas of transparency and translucency were incorporated into the design, as they reflect the idea that a person suffering from a mental illness or a time of poor emotional health may look fine on the outside, but be hurting on the inside. 18 small plexiglass signs linked with QR codes to 18 different images with resources, tips, and facts. 3 large signs hung in the student center linked with QR codes to 3 different YouTube videos.
Phase Three focused on providing a voice for the community of students at Connecticut College. In the library for three days during exam week, a give and take interactive piece was set up. For the final phase, students had to interact more physically with the project by posting a sticky note with their personal responses on a glass wall at the entrance of the library. The displayed responses offered a chance to see inside the minds of other students and their thoughts pertaining to mental health.