11 October 2016

Visualising mental health logo  Mental ill health is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health reports that about one in five Australians will experience a mental illness in any 12 month period.

Psychologists and other mental health professionals play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of mental ill health but one of the ongoing challenges psychologists face in doing this is communicating important mental health concepts to the wider community.

With this challenge in mind registered psychologist and School of Health Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Gareth Furber connected with Director of UniSA’s matchstudio, Dr Jane Andrew, to develop the Visualising Mental Health project where practicing clinical psychologists could collaborate with emerging designers to co-create engaging and informative mental health education materials for the general public.

“Third year Bachelor of Design students, led by Communication Design lecturer Doreen Donovan, worked in a small team studio environment with professional psychologists to co- create a mental health awareness campaign and associated visual communication tools for use in client consultations,” Dr Andrew says.

“The broad aim of the communications they created is to promote social and emotional wellbeing to the community, encouraging people to maximise their health potential, enhancing the coping capacity of communities, families, individuals and increasing mental health recovery. 

“This project was all about providing students the opportunity to design from a user-centred approach - it is not speculative, there is a real need at the end of the process.”

Dr Gareth Furber, says it was this co-creation approach that he, and the other working psychologists involved in the project, wanted to experiment with to communicate concepts and ideas from psychological research to their clients and to the general public.

“I have personally found many of these ideas to be useful in my own life in terms of wellbeing, relationships and work and I was keen to work with individuals with creative abilities such as drawing, animation and film,” Dr Furber says.

“For the students I know they have gained some experience working for a client as they would in the real world and also hopefully learned something about mental health that they can use themselves or in their future work.

“For the psychologists that were involved in this project, their primary way of communicating about mental health concepts is through clinical work or by publishing research that is mostly read by other researchers.

“This design collaboration gave us all the opportunity to think about how we would communicate some ideas through different mediums like animation, posters, material goods, social media, games and apps, and the unique designs enable us to reach different audiences who aren’t specifically seeking out information about mental health but who become connected with it because the design components are so engaging and novel.”

Facilitated by matchstudio, the 12-week project is culminating in an exhibition of the design pieces co-created by UniSA’s third year Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) students and the working clinical psychologists.

The exhibition in the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery launches tomorrow and is open to the public, until Friday 4 November. 


Established in 2010, matchstudio has become recognised as an inspiring studio based model for activating the nexus between teaching and learning and research, and facilitating problem based learning projects with industry and community. Working in matchstudio, students have the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects which provide them with a unique opportunity to develop skills that support their transition from university to the professions.

Kerry Packer Civic Gallery

The Kerry Packer Civic Gallery is open Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm (Thursdays until 7pm) in the Hawke Building
level 3, UniSA City West campus, 55 North Terrace, Adelaide. 

Media Contacts: Katrina McLachlan office (08) 8302 0961 email katrina.mclachlan@unisa.edu.au mobile 0414972537

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