Mental Illness is an ever-growing issue and, with most
symptoms appearing before adolescence, early intervention is key. Currently,
schools in the UK have no dedicated mental health classes which focus solely on
the importance of good mental health. Without this help a child’s development
can be effected which may have many repercussions in their future.
It should be every child’s right to be educated on the topic
of mental illness and every child should be taught to understand what their
feelings mean and where they can go to for help. To support this idea, this project has
created a not-for-profit foundation which trains teachers on how to deliver a
mental health education curriculum which provides the support which children
need. These teachers demonstrate necessary skills which primarily focus on
identifying symptoms, knowing the treatments and who to reach out to for
help. Whilst these sessions focus on a
serious topic, the teachers strive to deliver them with fun and engaging
activities to make the children feel comfortable.
To raise awareness of the service, a number of techniques
are explored including; social media avenues, magazine advertisements, posters
and handouts which all promote the campaign. These feature interactive
advertisements to make the message stand out and draw the attention of
parents. This technology is linked to
social media pages and a website in order to gain the support from the parents
of the children of whom the service will benefit. These advertisements
highlight that even though a child may seem happy, it can be difficult to truly
know how they feel if they are not taught how to communicate effectively. It is
services like this which could contribute towards a happier life for the
children of our country.
The issue of poor mental health is an emerging problem in
society, becoming more common in people of all ages and backgrounds. However,
it is particularly prevalent in children and young people, with the most
shocking statistics declaring that 20% of adolescents may experience a mental
health problem in any given year (WHO, 2003). Whilst this is unfortunate, it
has been said in a report by Public Health England (2016) that the symptoms of
most mental illnesses appear before the age of fourteen. This fact suggests that early intervention is
key to improving the figures surrounding the issue.
In our society one issue with early intervention is that
young children may not have the necessary emotional intelligence or knowledge
on the subject matter to be able to recognise when they need help, or how to
even get that help. It is without this
help that a child’s development can be effected which may have many
repercussions in the future.
Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, eating disorders and
conduct disorders can lead to further problems later on in life if they go
undiagnosed. This includes being
uneducated which can lead to unemployment, criminal behaviour which can lead to
imprisonment and health problems which can lead to death or long-term
hospitalisation. All of these
ramifications will require the aid of already strained government funded state
resources such as welfare, healthcare and prisons. This is another one of the
many reasons why early intervention is key when diagnosing mental illnesses,
not only to help provide a brighter future for the sufferer of the mental
illness, but also to save further spending on these other services.
It is this lack of education and knowledge which leaves many
people questioning what number of children go undiagnosed. There is a severe lack of government spending
on mental health services, especially for children, with only 25% of children
receiving the necessary care for their mental illnesses (Public Health England,
The project is specifically aiming to highlight how mental
health education in schools should be used as a tool to raise awareness of
mental health issues and to enable early intervention of mental health
disorders in children. This is an important
topic to promote because if children are equipped with the skills and knowledge
to take charge of their own well-being then they will be able to independently seek
help when they feel necessary.
Currently in the UK mental health education is not yet
compulsory in schools, which is completely unacceptable. Over 100,000 signatures were signed on a
petition to have this issue debated by parliament. Subsequent to this debate, the government
responded by saying that they want “mental health to be an everyday
concern in all institutions” (UK Parliament and Government, 2017) –
as part of PSHE classes. However, PSHE
isn’t taught every day, if at all, in many schools. PSHE is a non-compulsory
subject, and is not given the dedication it deserves.
The Prime Minister announced a new green paper with the
agenda of supporting children and young people, and a press release from the Prime
Minister and her office said that “The government has pledged that every
secondary school in the country will be offered Mental Health First Aid
training by 2020.”
(GOV.UK, 2017). However, “Only a third of young people think mental
health first aid training for teachers is a good idea, and 36% say the
initiative is “woefully inadequate”.” (The Guardian, 2017).
An improved first
aid system in schools won’t have any major impact on addressing mental health
issues for the country in the long term because children are known to hide
mental health issues, essentially suffering
in silence. Very often young sufferers are confused and unaware of what
is wrong, and so they won’t, and don’t, open up. These are the skills which
children must be taught to enable them to express themselves. This would be
done through a structured mental health education curriculum, primarily
focussing on identifying symptoms, knowing the treatments and where to get help
with any mental health issues. These
primary focusses are the main features which the project aims to highlight.
there are no existing visual communications relating specifically to mental
health education, however there are a handful which feature a message about the
stigma surrounding mental health. A
noteworthy piece by the Stamp Out Stigma campaign portrayed an image about name
calling and the importance of being aware of mental illness sufferers. The
striking photography had an excellent impact which makes viewers think more
about the message and hopefully make a change to their behaviour. This idea is something that the project will
consider within the work.
The interactive piece in this project will be aimed at parents
of school children in order to inform them about how mental health education
could be beneficial for the children of the United Kingdom. The idea is
intended to be very provocative and is aimed to make parents think twice about
their own child’s mental health and make them question why mental health
education isn’t already compulsory in the UK.
The concept of this project makes use of new modern
technology called Augmented Reality which enables the user to bring still
images to life through the use of an app.
As a part of this, there will be images of children in a school
photograph style which should engage the attention of the parents as it is
something relevant to their own lives.
The images will appear to feature a happy child upon first glance but
once the user has then scanned the image of the child, it will become animated
and show how a child could be really feeling underneath the smile that they put
on. These bold images are likely to
evoke strong reactions which is the aim of the project.
The content for the animated section of the footage will
represent how people with mental illness can feel on the inside. This concept will be supported by and derived
from direct quotes from people who have suffered from mental illness. This will be a good way of creating a true
depiction of what some people feel throughout their everyday life without the
The images will be featured on parenting websites/magazines
and advertisements in school areas on various scales because this is when a
parent is most likely to be considering these types of issues. The images will also be available as a
handout leaflet in a card frame just as usual school photographs are.
To accompany the images and the app, there will also be a
branding and promotion of a company who offer a mental health education service
who train teachers to provide taught sessions to children about their mental
health. Social media platforms may also
be used to promote the company and to show the good work which they have
achieved. This will then be linked to
the interactive piece via a button within the app which the user can click on
to find out more information.
The work was influenced by a number of different ideas which,
when combined, will create a successful final outcome. One of these ideas is the colloquial term
‘shockvertising’, a form of advertising which is completely unsubtle and
deliberate in using strong messages to shock and sometimes offend the intended
audience. Whilst this can be a rather
brutal technique of portraying a message, it is very effective in being
provocative and memorable.
There are hundreds of examples of this technique being used
for various topics within marketing campaigns as it can evoke a wide range of
emotions. For example, high fashion
brands such as Calvin Klein have been known to use this technique for their
campaigns by combining the well-known ‘sex sells’ idea with shockvertising like
in their 2009 billboard which was featured in Soho, New York. This particular billboard featured a man
sleeping on the floor dreaming of one woman with two heterosexual men in a
compromising position. This bold image
received a lot of media coverage and a backlash of negative attention from
families who felt it too inappropriate for the public space. Whilst this has given the brand a bad
reputation to some audiences, it actually allowed them a lot of free
advertising from the fall out of the campaign which promoted it further to the
intended audience. Not only this, but it
is well known and memorable billboard even now, years after it was released.
Another way that shockvertising can be used is for
charitable campaigns which seek donations, support for a cause or aid through
volunteering. This type of advertising
in this sector is effective because it can compel the audience into feeling
guilty and consequently making them feel that they should act to relieve this
guilt. One example of this technique is
the advertisement “Tsunami” which holds a message of “The Tsunami killed 100
times more people than 9/11. The planet is brutally powerful. Respect it.
Preserve it.” (WWF Brazil, 2009). This
message was accompanied by a superimposed image of multiple aeroplanes flying
towards the Twin Towers buildings. This
challenged an already painful image for many people and created a bold contrast
between events which shocked people into realising the scale of the tsunami and
compelled them to work towards a cleaner Earth and a better future. The dramatic impact which was caused by this
piece is exactly what the work is aiming to achieve in order to make a change
for the promotion of mental health education for all children.
Another idea which was key within the work was creating a
lasting impression which the audience will be reminded of after they have
interacted with the piece. By providing
visual triggers which are common in the intended audiences lives, the subject
of the work will remain fresh in their memories. This is achieved within the
work by the use of a school portrait style with the children in school uniform
which is relevant due to the target audience being the parents of school children
meaning that they will be reminded of the work whenever they take their
children to school or every year when they receive a new school portrait of
their own child. This idea has been used
a lot by professional designers such Stefan Sagmeister who used objects such as
bananas in his “Banana Wall” (Sagmeister, 2008), the bike which powered the
neon lights for his “Happy Show” (Sagmeister, 2012), and the coins in his
“Obsession Make My Life Worse and Work Better” (Sagmeister, 2008).
To conclude, this project has gathered research on mental
illness to face an issue which thousands of children suffer silently with every
day. This knowledge has given the
project a foundation to confront the way that we help children to deal with
The outcome of this confrontation is a not-for-profit
company which trains teachers to deliver a structured mental health education
curriculum. This company is thoughtfully
branded and promoted with parents as the target market to show them that they
should not only support the use of this service but that they should also
strongly encourage it in their own child’s school. Using a number of advertising techniques, the
promotional materials created were designed to make the parents question their
own child’s mental health, which hopefully provokes thought and forces them to
take action. Partnering these
advertisements with social media accounts and a website is an excellent way to
help these parents spread the message about the service and to show their support. The company also recognises that parents may
also need support to help their children at home with mental illness and therefore
a social media group has been organised to give the parents a place to talk and
give advice on a safe platform.
To further improve this company, the project would move to
focus on creating learning materials which could be used within both the taught
sessions and in a home environment. These materials could take the form of
branded thought journals, charts for recording moods and educational animations
and games to aid learning. This would
encourage an open communication pathway between parents and children in which
they can comfortably talk about mental illness.
Creating a whole life approach to mental illness is key and bringing it
into home life as well as school life would benefit children greatly.