Opening up about Depression:
Depression in youths are often not diagnosed because the signs are not obvious and hence are often ignored. Equally, it is hard for teenagers to self-identify as one who is living with depression.
Product: Posters that are lighthearted with signs and symptoms of depression are created to demonstrate the insidiousness of depression, a sensitive and difficult topic to initiate especially amongst teenagers.
Goal: Promote the TIME to talk virtual Zoom symposium on the signs and symptoms of depression by School Counsellor in Mental Health Month, 2021.
Problem: Even though it is difficult to start a conversation with a teenager about mental health in general, amongst many other things, artifacts are needed to nonetheless allow teenagers to relate, and push them to start the difficult conversation by themselves, if not attend the virtual symposium.
Process: By using light sepia and elements of overexposure, I intentionally created the timeless nostalgia of youth on teenager photographs that are ostensibly free, happy, and enjoying their lives, which allowed me to solve three things when posters are distributed in school cafeterias and hallways as a part of the TIME to talk, Mental Health Month in 2021.
First, the aforementioned visual processes and tailored artifacts allowed me to capture the attention of high schoolers and educate them that while one can appear to be happy and carefree on the outside, one can still feel the crushing symptoms of depression, as shown by the quoted, internal dialogue with the Reenie Beanie typeface, chosen for its innocent, unstrained stroke resembling the behavior of a typical teenager.
Second, it demonstrates and distinguishes depression from physical diseases because while one may exhibit readily observable symptoms from contracting the flu, like a runny nose, depression can easily go unnoticed if one does not carefully listen, pay attention, or reach out for help, be it from a friend, or a trained professional.
Third, on top of student education about depression, it allowed me to promote a non-mandatory TIME to talk virtual Zoom event where the school guidance counsellors gave a symposium on the signs and symptoms of depression. By keeping the poster light and non-cluttered without too much information, it didn't scare or intimidate students to join the virtual symposium, a place where they may feel safe and potentially "speak out" about their current emotional state, congruent with the catchy call to action "TIME to talk" that I concocted.
Result: 100 high school students attended the TIME to talk symposium May of 2021. Students shared their current emotional states with prolonged lockdowns due to the pandemic. The event was scheduled for one hour, but students stayed and shared their own emotional struggles related to course workload and being segregated from their friends with small online classes. In the end, the event lasted for two hours with deep, voluntary self-disclosure by students, a sign of total success for the TIME to talk event.