Monday, November 11, 2013

QuickPost :: Design And Mental Health

Image from
Another great find at the intersection of Design, Medicine and Technology, via the ever-reliable Co.Design.

Take a look at this piece about the MindBrowser project which uses Design to tackle a common, often devastating and/or fatal, and generally misunderstood and stigmatized illness—Depression.

In the words of the article:
"A clickable online map narrates the thoughts and feelings of a person going through a depressive episode in an attempt to destigmatize a widespread mental illness."

Designer Kim Haagen explains it as follows on the Thoughts Of Depression site:

About the MindBrowser by Kim Haagen. Screenshot from

Haagen demonstrates how the tool works in this video:

Thought of Depression - The Mind Browser from Kim Haagen on Vimeo.
A research on the social effects of depression led to the concept for the Mind Browser. A tool that helps develop emphasis towards the depressed ways of thinking.

Per the Co.Design piece:
"It's still in its prototype stages, existing mainly in video and concept form, but once it’s fully realized, the MindBrowser could be a powerful tool in combatting stigma and ignorance. Haagen has plans to apply the MindBrowser format to all existing mental illnesses."

I am a fan of the "out-of-the-box," curiosity/research-driven and collaborative approach... and, it's always so inspiring when a patient takes on the task of shifting the needle in creative and effective ways. Haagen tells Co.Design about the roots of her project:
“Throughout my life I have had different kinds of experiences with depression,” Haagen tells Co.Design. Out of a personal need to speak openly about the illness, she began to interview depression sufferers and psychologists about their experiences.

Also, I can't help but imagine how extending and building on this approach might work/help if it were to add further participatory components and even evolve into an app/tool that individual patients, psychologists, doctors and caregivers might use.

QuickPost :: Designing Out Medical Error

Herewith, one of the interesting points from a FastCoDesign article about the Designing Out Medical Error Project (DOME):
"(...) the (DOME) project produced insights that should guide future efforts. One is simply encouraging medical professionals and designers to interact. Doing so gives practitioners a chance to see their old equipment "with fresh eyes," says West, and yet such collaborations are rare--despite fruitful partnerships going back to the days of Jeffrey Cooper. "I speak at a lot of medical conferences, and they never even considered that a designer could be involved in this sort of thing," says West. They should, stat." [Emphasis and link placement are mine.]
At least one medical conference embraces the design/medicine collaboration -- Stanford Medicine X (disclosure: I sit on its ePatient Advisory Board). Here's to seeing this rippling out further.

Here's a tweet from the DOME project: