What constitutes mental health? A complex and many varied array of mental illnesses permeate our societies and threaten the productivity and quality of lives of millions of people across the world. In an age of instant gratification, material and societal demands are increasing and negatively impact communities and individuals. It appears that there are growing statistics of mental health problems globally. The World Health Organization (2012:4) asserts that in the case of suicide:
Every year, almost one million people die by suicide around the world. Suicide remains a significant social and public health problem. In 1998, suicide constituted 1.8% of the total disease burden; this is estimated to rise to 2.4% by 2020 (Bertolote, 2009). Young people are increasingly vulnerable to suicidal behaviors. Worldwide, suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among those in the most economically productive age group (15-44 years), and the second leading cause of death in the 15-19 years age group (Patton et al., 2009). At the other end of the age spectrum, the elderly are also at high risk in many countries.
As seen by this example of suicide statistics mental health must surely have a great impact on the well being and productivity as well as on the quality of life for many people. The Mental Health Federation website states that:
Mental health care users are one of the most vulnerable, invisible and forgotten groups of people in our society. Very often they are not in a position to eloquently state their concerns and grievances; there is still much stigma and discrimination against them; many face physical, sexual and psychological abuse, unfair denial of employment opportunities and discrimination in access to health care and other services.
There are also few organizations that represent the interests of those who suffer from severe mental illness, psychiatric, neurological or intellectual and or cognitive disabilities, illnesses or conditions. Those organizations that do exist tend to be poorly resourced and do not have the necessary resources to articulate the human rights concerns of this group sufficiently.
The aim of the project is to explore and deliver design solutions to a subject that is considered to be one that is both stigmatised and marginalised. The focus of this project is to select certain mental health disorders as directed from our client SADAG and to find design solutions that can bring awareness to these disorders as well as to highlight mental health. The Mental Health Federation lists a variety disorders. These include the following: Depression, Post-Partum Depression, Schizophrenia, Suicide, Alzheimer’s disease, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bi Polar and Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder.
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