Eight of the most thought-provoking design responses to mental health

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Eight thought-provoking design responses to mental health

For World Mental Health Day, we've rounded up eight designs that address the increasingly prevalent topic of mental wellbeing, including a hand-held anxiety reducer and a metaphorical gun that fires tears.


Mindnosis by Sara Lopez Ibanez

Having had her own negative experiences with mental health services, design graduate Sara Lopez Ibanez created a self-assessment kit to support those with similar issues.

After researching the UK's approach to mental health services and the various types of therapy on offer, Ibanez concluded that what patient's struggled with the most was the initial communication with their doctors.

Her Mindnosis kit, therefore, allows users to discover the type of help they need, and where they can get it from. It includes a set of eight activity cards that combine mindfulness, cognitive behaviour therapy techniques (CBT) and tips from peers to help users when they feel unwell.

Find out more about Mindnosis ›


Tools for Therapy by Nicolette Bodewes

Nicolette Bodewes also designed a mental health toolkit, intended to help users express their thoughts during psychotherapy sessions.

The idea similarly stemmed from Bodewes' own experiences with therapy, where she the found creative sessions more beneficial than standard, talk-based therapy.

Tools for Therapy features a basic set of building blocks as well as a set of 12 more complex objects, based on the Jungian Archetypes defined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. Other elements include round sheets of paper and a workbook.

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Tear Gun by Yi-Fei Chen

Design graduate Yi-Fei Chen created a visual metaphor in the form of a Tear Gun to represent her personal struggle with expressing her thoughts.

Chen's brass Tear gun, which was displayed at last year's Dutch Design Week, fires bullets made from frozen tears that are collected as the user cries.

The project was influenced by a negative encounter Chen had with a tutor, where she felt that her "politeness became her weakness," and she was unable to voice her personal struggles.

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Calmingstone by Ramon Telfer

At a loss of finding a tangible product on the market to help him with his own anxiety, Ramon Telfer worked with Calmingstone co-founder Alex Johnson to develop a hand-held device that eases anxiety through the use of light and sound.

As the pebble-shaped device sits in the palm of the hand, a copper ring sensor running around its edge senses the user's heart rate, and mimics it with a softly glowing light and a slight pulsing sensation.

"Because stress is very real and life is a fully tactile, sensory experience, we have created and evolved our learnings into a beautiful, intimate product that anyone can hold, feel and listen to," said the industrial designer.

Find out more about Calmingstone ›


Emotional First Aid Kit by Rui Sun 

Graduate designer Rui Sun created an Emotional First Aid Kit, comprised of five objects designed to provide comfort in times of mental distress. The project aims to demonstrate that our emotional wellbeing is just as important as our physical health.

Each of the objects are intended to comfort the user in a particular way – the Purple Breathing Mask gives off calming scents when the user breathes in, allowing them to clear their mind when in overwhelming situations, and the Green Meditating Stethoscope helps stressed users tune into their breath and meditate.

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Seeds Pods by Karl Lenton

These egg-shaped mobile therapy spaces were designed by Karl Lenton to provide prisoners with better and more comfortable access to healthcare.

The pods can be used for one-on-one consultations or group meetings with up to four people, featuring a central table, colour-changing lamps, speakers and touchscreens. The Seeds' inner foam cores reduce the external sounds of the loud prison environment, allowing conversations to take place without interference.

To ensure that no potentially harmful ligature points are involved, the structures break down into eight modular pieces that can be quickly assembled without screws or clips.

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Design for the Mind by Pratt Institute Students

Students from New York's Pratt Institute collaborated with the Cooper Hewitt museum and non-profit organisation CaringKind to create a series of home products and accessories that aim to assist those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

The objects were designed to help memory-loss sufferers face everyday tasks with more ease, such as getting dressed, brushing teeth, or eating.

Sean Wang's Mirror Table consists of a table with an open wooden frame like that of a mirror and helps users relearn simple tasks like brushing teeth or spooning food by having the carer sit opposite the cared-for as they mimic their actions.

Find out more about Design for the Mind ›


My-House by Austin Maynard Architects

My House by Andrew Maynard

Various architects have also addressed mental wellbeing in their structural projects. Andrew Maynard renovated his Melbourne home to be so open to natural sunlight that it requires him to "wear sunglasses inside" in a bid to improve his mental health via his vitamin D levels, as prompted by his doctor.

Find out more about My House by Andrew Maynard ›