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  • Engage: redoing how we talk about depression

Stevens, John, Corvin, Tim, Townsend, Hermione, Coppen, Daniel, Sepulveda Camposano, Florencia and Josef, Ralf, 2017, Conference or Workshop, Engage: redoing how we talk about depression at Cumulus REDO, Kolding, Denmark, 30 May - 02 Jun 2017.

Abstract or Description:

Engage is a workshop tool for facilitating difficult discussions around mental health among young adults. It was born of the need to challenge stigma and misconceptions around mental health and depression, as these are a major barrier for sufferers to seek help or feel able to discuss their condition with others. Structured as a 90 minute workshop, it provides an opportunity for college students to engage in open discussion about mental health, in order to raise awareness and articulacy, and reduce the high levels of stigma that surround this topic.
Initially the project focused on elderly depression, and on the stigma attached to mental health conditions. Field research in Senior Centers in New York and with several senior-focused NGOs resulted in the first design proposal, the Engage Toolkit. The toolkit contains a set of prompt activities designed to enable senior centre members to engage in open dialogue about mental health, through sharing perceptions, experiences and worries, in order to promote a culture of empathy, understanding, and free of stigma.
The project was later taken to Tokyo, Japan, where the concept was tested within Keio University. Based on the insights and experiences that came out of the research and user testing in Japan, the second iteration was developed into the Engage Workshop, introducing physical prompts and fictional scenarios and personae to facilitate and structure discussions. This key difference was informed by direct experience of Japanese culture: by centring the discussion around fictional scenarios and personae, as opposed to participants’ own experiences, they feel safe and free to talk openly in an atmosphere of confidentiality, sensitivity and respect. This allows them to develop the skills to discuss sensitive but necessary topics, somewhat taboo in Japan, without feeling pressured to share personal experiences which may require a more specialised approach, or support from a mental health professional.
The designers of this project are postgraduate students who have spent the past year in New York, Tokyo and London, immersively exploring cultural differences as opportunities for design innovation, in particular researching and designing to address negative attitudes and stigma surrounding mental health. They are currently working to further validate and refine the Engage concept, in collaboration with UK mental health charity Sane, including a version specifically for the British context.

Contributors:
ContributionNameRCA ID
TeacherCorvin, TimUNSPECIFIED
TeacherInakage, MasaUNSPECIFIED
Subjects: Other > Social studies > L500 Social Work
Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design > W990 Creative Arts and Design not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2017 09:21
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2017 09:21
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2823

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