Wider Context Research

Historical / Factual / Statistics

  • “References to mental illness can be found throughout history. The evolution of mental illness, however, has not been linear or progressive but rather cyclical. Whether a behaviour is considered normal or abnormal depends on the context surrounding the behaviour and thus changes as a function of a particular time and culture. In the past, uncommon behaviour or behaviour that deviated from the socio-cultural norms and expectations of a specific culture and period has been used as a way to silence or control certain individuals or groups. As a result, a less cultural relativist view of abnormal behaviour has focused instead on whether behaviour poses a threat to oneself or others or causes so much pain and suffering that it interferes with one’s work responsibilities or with one’s relationships with family and friends.” –Noba Project
  • “The term ‘mental health’ was popularised in the early 1900s by physicians, social reformers and former asylum patients. They wanted to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, and said ‘illness’ reinforced prejudices against asylum patients because it implied segregation between the sick and the well. Focusing on health countered a persistent misconception that only some people are prone to psychiatric problems.
  • “Christianity’s influence on mental health care remained dominant for centuries. For example, clergyman Francis Willis famously treated King George III. The York Retreat, founded by Quakers in the 1790s, was the most influential asylum of its time. It was one of the first private asylums to shun physical restraint and coercion. Its new methods, grounded more in religion than medicine, were called ‘moral treatment’, in deliberate contrast to ‘medical treatment’.
  • “Many asylums were crowded, hopeless places by the early 1900s, increasingly separated from the outside world. These isolated institutions became testing grounds for controversial and dangerous treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and lobotomy. Such treatments helped some patients, but they reinforced the idea that asylums were places no-one wanted to end up. Asylums did not survive criticism in the 1970s from ex-patients, feminists and the antipsychiatry movement. Psychiatry’s focus has since moved from asylums to pharmaceuticals.” –Science Museum
  • “Katherine Darton’s Notes of the history of mental health care
    (on the Mind website) begins in 10,000 BC. She says “in prehistoric times there was, as far as historians can tell, no division between medicine, magic and religion.” She refers to Stone Age evidence of trepanning, “study of cave drawings” of “mesolithic people” and “A cave painting in Ariege, France” that “shows a strange being with human feet and hands and antlers who has been identified as a ‘psychiatrist (witch doctor)’, but it is not clear how this identification has been made”-Studymore

The Impact Your Concept has on the World

My concept is all about the normalisation of mental illness – something which people have been striving to achieve for over a century now. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or scared of, yet there is such a stigma surrounding it, it is hard not to feel that way to a lot of people. People who don’t have a mental illness are quite prone to being uneducated on the topic of it, and can therefore contribute to the stigma with their blind fear-mongering. My concept will hopefully be a good place to start a conversation about these illnesses and lift some of the misconstrued ideas surrounding them, and also let the people who have the illnesses know that they are not alone.

Current and Past Promo Material




How Your Concept has been Utilised in Social Media

The 21st century brought with it a surge of smart technology, and millennials that are very savvy in using it. Social media makes it easier than ever to reach out to friends, loved ones, and so many strangers at the touch of a screen. This means that it is much easier for a minority groups’ voices to be heard, especially if a big outlet shares a link to a post and gives it a huge audience of people from many different backgrounds. Mentally ill people are no exception to being tech-savvy and take the opportunity as it comes, taking this amazing new platform and speaking their thoughts out to the world.

Previously, the voices of mentally ill people have been drowned out by the biggest voice there was – the media. While newspapers and TV news are both still very loud voices, for the first time in history the public has a platform where they can express their thoughts and choose what kind of audience it will be directed to.

Social media is utilised by many to express their thoughts, feelings, and views on mental health. For example, a tweet from a relatively popular twitter account fighting back against stigma surrounding bipolar disorder could be seen be hundreds, if not thousands of people. This audience can dramatically increase through interactions with said tweet – a like can spread it a little, a retweet spreads it to the whole retweeters audience.

Find Designers who have used GIGA as a means of Social Action


Editorial Illustration and Visual Metaphor


The illustration pathway was given the task of creating an editorial piece of illustration containing visual metaphors, inspired by or to go alongside a news article. My chosen article was about the sudden rise in hate crimes against minority groups upon Trumps election for presidency, especially the LGBT community. I spent a long time considering how to visually portray this article, as I chose it because it is a topic I hold close to my heart.

Nearing the election, Trump unfurled a Gay Pride flag at a Colorado rally bearing the words “LGBTs for Trump” written in black sharpie. Note that the iconic rainbow flag goes in ascending colour order from red to purple – and that Trump is holding it upside down. It was apparently held up in an act of solidarity, but if you can’t even hold the flag the correct way up doesn’t that just speak for itself?

Donald Trump has a well documented homophobic past (even his twitter account is proof enough), so why the sudden change of heart nearing election day?

It is widely believed that Trump was told to drop the homophobia in front of the cameras so that he could gain the LGBT vote and win the race, as his radical views on pretty much everything could only get him so far. I personally agree with this theory, and it fitted in nicely with this article.

Knowing this, I theorised that Trump is more than likely sick of putting on this act, and I wanted to represent that idea visually, so I drew him throwing up a rainbow. Inspired by the snapchat filter, he also has some cute blushing cheeks and sparkles – this will attract the attention of millennials that are familiar with the filter.

I then wanted to add some context to my image, so deciding what object he should be throwing up into was difficult. After some experimentation, I decided to settle for a ballot box, as it is a visual metaphor for all of the rubbish he spews to his followers and supporters.

Project Proposal

Pathway: Illustration

Project Title: Its Okay To Not Be Okay

Section 1: Review

Mental Health issues are something I, along with millions of other people, am well acquainted with. However, the people who are not so well acquainted with them well outweigh this number, and can sometimes be ignorant and insensitive about them.

1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, ranging from something relatively common such as mixed anxiety and depression, to something relatively uncommon like Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. 40% is a huge percentage of people in the UK to experience something as life changing as this, but it isn’t uncommon to feel very alone about it. It’s always encouraging to have a reminder that you are not defined by your issues, and that it’s okay to not be okay when times get tough.

Section 2: Project Concept

My idea for what I will produce during this project is heavily inspired by a company  I have been following for years; The Sad Ghost Club. They describe themselves as A club for anyone who’s ever felt sad or lost. It’s the club for those who don’t feel like they’re part of any other club”. They create merchandise smattered with positive affirmations and relatable issues for people who suffer from mental illnesses, helping them feel less alone and less alienated in their times of need. I really love how wholesome and genuine their message is while remaining cute and fun, and I hope to emulate this feeling in my own project.

I would like to produce some kind of merchandise (such as shirts, badges, tote bags, jumpers, etc) with positive messages surrounding mental illness, in order for it to be distributed to a wide range of people. This means it will be seen by many more people than just the person that owns the piece, thus spreading the message to a wider audience. I hope to help the fight to normalize and end the stigma surrounding mental illnesses through endearing, eye catching illustrations, and to let mentally ill people know that they are most definitely not alone.

Section 3: Evaluation

In order to evaluate my progress during this project, I will evaluate throughout the entire process as opposed to simply doing it for the finished product. In order to evaluate and rethink my action plans throughout, I will document my evaluations on blog posts accompanied by pictures and diagrams. This will allow me to manage my time more effectively, and even alter my project to better suit solutions to problems. For example, I will evaluate what I decide I will print onto my merchandise, and what merchandise I will be printing onto, and adjust them as needs be.

As usual, I will also do a large evaluation at the end of the project to reflect upon what I have achieved, what wrong and right decisions I made, whether the resolutions to my smaller evaluations were good ones, etc.

Proposed Research Sources and Bibliography (Harvard Format)

Project Action Plan and Timetable