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Well-being design
Design research
Visual communication design
Strategies of inquiry
Mental health
Issue Date: 
Yeo, J. P.-H., & Teo, C.-T. (2020). Designing wellbeing: The role of design in developing open-mindedness in mental health. In K. Christer, C. Craig, & P. Chamberlain (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th European Conference on Design4Health (Volume 4, pp. 766-773). Sheffield Hallam University.
According to the World Health Organization, mental disorders are among the leading causes of disability-adjusted life years worldwide. Approximately one in four adults has experienced mental disorders at some point during his or her lifetime. Due to the misconceptions of the illness and its invisible psychological nature, people experiencing mental disorders may not seek help. While psychologists investigate the cause and effect of mental illness to provide treatments, graphic designers may contribute to improving the present mental health situation through a call for open-mindedness. Using the Strategies of Inquiry design research approach developed by Richard Buchanan (2007) that explores the human experience, a role-playing technique was engaged with twelve undergraduate students to explore mental disorders and search for unifying ideas in the design process. Then, creative action, practical thinking, and function, form and materials were investigated to understand how graphic design can encourage: (i) users with mental disorders to become more open-minded towards support services, (ii) society to be more empathetic and accepting of people with mental illness for who they are, and (iii) designers to approach healthcare design with open-mindedness. The initial findings of the project indicated that design has a potential role in the call for open-mindedness in the area of mental health and wellbeing, as graphic design can effectively communicate complex information and issues in meaningful ways. Nevertheless, the absence of actual patients or service users as participants in the study requires a cautious interpretation of results. On this basis, further research is recommended to understand critical factors that could strengthen the association between creativity, design process, mental health patients and service users, as well as the distribution and evolution of design objects.
Grant ID: 
MOE Academic Research Fund (Tier 1)
Funding Agency: 
Ministry of Education, Singapore
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