University Welfare Service: 'Chat Room' concept branding & App Design
The concept for a university brief was to produce something that could be implemented, impacting ideally local areas or people. I decided to produce a concept focused on mental health services at universities, a topic close to my heart as well as my peers, it's become apparent despite Leeds Arts University is incredibly blessed with skilled welfare support, even this uni has issues when it comes to making sure their students have the help they need. It became more obvious to me this was an issue after an anonymous survey I sent out highlighted the lack of confidence people had when it came to broaching this topic due to the stigma behind mental health. An overwhelming amount of responses furthermore expressed their fear for expression down to the fact they're men. Before even researching further this stood out for me and I knew the branding had to be inclusive of all genders, race, sexuality and so forth. It's always been important for me to enable mental health discussion and through design I found I could try to make this accessible to all.
I developed this conceptual Chat Room, it was to be run by student volunteers studying psychology and social care courses. Chat Room had a physical drop in service in the welfare area of every university which enables students to drop in as "it all starts with a chat". This excludes the pressures of booking or overthinking about waiting lists (which in my survey put it has/ it would put 100% of students off utilising the services, defeating the point of urgent attention which seems to be more important if it's a physical health concern).
An extension of this is the Chat Room App. I developed this for students to use who don't feel comfortable enough to speak to anyone in person. This may also be beneficial for those who are on the move/ too busy with university deadlines/ in a state of panic and in need of immediate help. I have previously used apps such as '7 Cups' a therapy app and found it incredibly useful however these apps have too much advertising, confusing bombarding messages that feed into this whole gaming aspect as you're constantly asked to up your score in some way, defeating the point of the app being used for expressing ourselves.
Posters and Way-finding (signage)
I chose the metaphorical representation of mental health to be a tentacle. For me this has always been a personal vision but after feedback was reassured this made sense to others. The feeling of being mentally ill can often feel like being suffocated. Having this emerge from the mouth in the logo I hint at the inner demons we may battle with, just using the mouth as well as a plain clothed model was purposeful so as to not exclude certain viewers. With the strap line "Follow the tentacle" there maintains an air of ambiguity for those who aren't aware of the campaign, ensuring those follow the signs have less chance of provoking suspicion if they're self conscious.
As part of the app you can use a group chat option where topics range from anxiety to exam stress, or you can choose the one to one option where you'll be put through to a student volunteer, there to listen. The last option is the "calm down" section (featured above). Clicking play will start a breathing exercise meditation which is in sync with the timing of the gif I created, mimicking something breathing calmly, a further visual stimulus to aid serenity.
Mock-up App Walk Through: