Creative Answers to Drive Mental Health Initiatives

On March 13th, 2018, Dr. Kristine Newman and the Centre for Communicating Knowledge hosted a workshop on Active Student Citizenship through the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing’s Student Engagement Initiative. The workshop gave students enrolled in the School of Nursing the opportunity to invite friends and family members to the workshop, where they collaborated with MindFest and the Thoughts for Dementia Collaborative to analyze and solve issues related to Mental Health and Stigma.

During the workshop, participants were guided through design thinking principles and collaborated in teams to pitch out-of-the-box solutions to address issues presented to them by the organizational partners.

During the lesson, participants watched a YouTube video about tackling stress in creative and disruptive ways. In the clip, people were interviewed about their experiences with high stress levels. Afterwards, each participant were brought into a glass room one at a time blindfolded. At first, they thought it was an exercise in a form of meditation. Instead, they were happily surprised by kittens!

This opened the workshop floor to the participants’ own creative thinking. Working in teams, students and their friends and siblings drew their own mini-solutions onto their canvas. A few of the solutions came from a mixture of reading, writing, listening to music, or even playing sports.

During the second half of the workshop, teams worked closely with organizational partners to analyze and address specific issues that each organization focuses on addressing on a daily basis. Andy Mok from MindFest presented the challenge of engaging students in mental health initiatives, and Paul Lea from the Thoughts for Dementia Collaborative charged his team on coming up with solutions to reduce and address stigma surrounding dementia. Each team went through the processes of:

Empathizing: Asking questions about who’s impacted, how, and why;
Defining: Identifying the “bigger picture” issue and further unpacking challenges that lead up to / contribute to the problem, and;
Ideating: Drawing potential solutions and visually connecting common factors that shape a feasible and realistic solution.

In the final part of the workshop, teams were to collectively design one solution and draw it out onto large paper (prototyping phase). Each team then presented and explained their ideas to a panel of judges, and answered any questions and challenges (assessing phase).In the end, the judges were equally impressed and decided to declare a tie, leaving both teams winners.

Participants stated that they enjoyed the workshop, particularly working in groups to come up with creative ideas. For Kristine Newman and the CCK, Design thinking is a fantastic learning process for the participants, and looks forward to hosting more activities to engage students, organizations, and members of the community at large.