The Story Behind The Creative Link – Mental Health and The Arts (Video)

A new startup project looking to create a social platform to connect creatives, this project is looking to connect creatives to help each other find jobs, improve portfolios and to discuss topics such as mental health. Joellah Olivia is the person behind the project, having suffered from mental health issues herself, Joellah uses this experience behind her to guide the mission of the project. Although skeptical behind the success of the project as there are many alternatives, the project does highlight the need for young creative to connect not only the professional reasons but also for an empathetic approach to dealing with mental health

Mental Health in the Fashion and Creative Industries Panel Discussion (Video)

A roundtable panel discussion from the UCL university, although mainly focused on the fashion industry they consider the industry as whole as well. On the panel was Karen Franklin who made a couple of very poignant points.

Franklin makes the point that there are many who probably do not feel qualified or safe enough to talk about the subject, with such big names suffering from the same problem and starting to talk about it there can be a feeling of feeling as if you problem is somewhat lessened by not being a big name.

Franklin mentioned how Kate Moss opened up about even at a young age she was coerced into more adult photoshoot. This thought process i feel can be expanded further when we consider how graduates and interns are treated when they enter the industry, and equally how they are prepared for industry. Its often a case of looking down at interns and Graduates however are we expected a brand new designer to be able to produced the same amount of work as another designer who has 20+ years experience or even expect new designers to have more skills than whats actually taught on the courses.

Time to Talk: Mental Health and the Creative Mind – 5 Minute Interview

A short interview with Renee van der Vloodt, if im totally honest the content is thin in this video as is short but tries to cover a lot of different topics. This is something that i do need to consider as the video essay will need to show all the content within 12 mins and should be a well considered research. A point that Van der Vloodt does say is that society as a whole doesn’t really understand creatives and needs to start to understand how to nurture creatives but also more importantly why society needs creatives and divergent thinking. In terms of problem solving creatives are best deployed as the solution to many complex issues require a level of not only divergent thinking but empathetic research, both of these are something creatives are capable of.

How creativity and mental illness are linked (video)

A news styled video produced by Discovery news. This video explores and shows evidence behind the linked between Creativity in general and mental illness. What is really important in this video is that the video presents information about the physical effect on the brain, depression and thinking creatiively both trigger the same part of the brain. It also presents the casr that creative people actually need more stimuli in their thinking process in order to think more creatively. However this can spark a case of overthinking. Creatives who work in the creative industry are paid to overthink however when this comes home then it can cause issues.

Web Link research for Interview project

“The creative world is turbulent”: designers’ stories of mental health

A fantastic series of stories, each of a creatives past with dealing with mental health at some point. What was interesting is that this all backs up the ulster paper on its thoughts on the causes behind the mental health problems, cheifly this article points out previous history, showing links between creativity and mental health, finacial pressures and underappriation from clients. This last point does peak my interest, is the underapprieation of creativity and its processes a major cause of the mental anguish.

The Links Between Creativity and Depression

This article presents an important context to my research and provides a more scientific base to underpin my essay.
“A study published by Harvard University professors Modupe Akinola and Wendy Berry Mendes entitled “The Dark Side of Creativity: Biological Vulnerability and Negative Emotions Lead to Greater Artistic Creativity,” found a strong relationship between levels of an adrenal steroid (dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, or DHEAS) previously linked to depression and artistic creativity, suggesting that those with a naturally more creative disposition were far more likely than their less creative peers to be affected by “intense negative emotions.” In keeping with the ideas of creativity emerging from dark places, it states that “situational triggers of negative affect were especially influential among those lower in DHEAS, which resulted in the most creative products.” In other words, when usually non-depressive subjects were made to feel bad about themselves, they became more creative.”
This suggests that actually, we can be more creative when we are hit by anxiety or depression but also those who are more creative run the risk of suffering from these mental health conditions.


An interesting article to read when considering the issue of what it means to design for mental health and how to soothe it. The backing behind the project that gives context and empathy is that the designer herself, Mariana B, also suffered from mental health issues and used her own experiences to inspire her designs. On design which is interesting is the use of a weighted necklace, as it can be worn by both men and women but it also relies on a sensory of touch to provides its soothing ability.

Mindnosis kit is designed to help people overcome their mental health issues

An empathetic design solution for this huge issue. This kit allows the user to diagnose what was wrong and supply advice and guidance on help and support for the case. A beautifully simple design that isnt cluttered but is clean and modern. Based not only personal experience but through conversation, this piece realises that not all people will opening admit their mental health complication. In this article there is mmention of more and more graduates becoming more switched onto this topic and even start to explore it, but it does leave the question, are graduates being prepared for what they need mentally to work within the industry.

Ulster University Paper – Mental health with creative industries

In 2018 Ulster university was approached by Inspire charity to produce a research body about the mental health conditions in the creative industries.

The body of research was a pretty damning paper for sure. The paper presented an over arching stat that in the creative industries, creatives are a third more likely to suffer from some form of a mental health condition, namely in this paper, depression or anxiety. The key summary in this paper states:

  • Our participants described how their creative output can be uniquely personal, often arising through the processing of their own life experiences, including pain, suffering, and vulnerability. However the conditions of the working environment and the lack of appropriate recognition of the value of the work is conducive to stress and mental health difficulties. As one participant so eloquently put it:
    • “I concluded that in order to progress as an artist that it was necessary to embrace one’s shadow and to allow a dialogue between conscious and unconscious. This I concluded, may make the artist very vulnerable and that this should be acknowledged in art colleges etc. The creative process I believe can stir up mental health issues.”
  • Specific characteristics of the creative sector work environment were reported as contributing to the likelihood of developing mental health problems. Examples included pressure to reach high standards (both externally and internally), irregular work (including contracts, financial security, irregular hours, and working outside the sector), the perceived lack of value placed on their work and the inadequate financial rewards for the work.
  • Despite these difficulties, the majority reported having hope and most considered themselves happy. Around two-thirds spoke of hope for the future (67.3%) or expected to have many more positive than negative experiences in the next three to five years.
  • On average the alcohol use of those working in the creative sector put those at risk of alcohol related harm; there was evidence that some creative sector workers were being paid in alcohol, and that drug use in the past year was more common than in the general population (46.5%).
  • Over 20% of those in the creative sector are being paid at a level which is below the poverty line.
  • The likelihood of a mental health problem in the sector is three times that of the general population. The most commonly diagnosed disorders were anxiety (36%) and depression (32%).
  • High proportions (60%) reported having had suicidal thoughts, 37% had made a plan for suicide and 16% had made a suicide attempt in their lifetime.
  • Around 36% of those had visited their GP for a mental health problem in the past year. Whilst most people said they felt they could admit that they had a mental health, alcohol, or drug problem (63%), those who were concerned about disclosure cited workplace factors, personal factors, service provision and stigma as reasons for not revealing that they had a problem. The vast majority, 88.5% said they would talk to their friend if they were worried about their friend’s mental health.

This paper does raise the obvious questions, why is this? what is happening? what can we do to help? does the industry recognise this as a problem within its creatives?

I do also wonder, and this would need my interviewee to have plenty of experience, has this always been the case? Is the more open and the higher visibility of mental health bolstered these numbers? Has mental health of the creative ever been a focus for the industry before?

For the full and summary report click here

Video essay topics candidates

The topics

The digital shift in the design industry and the effect it has on healthcare awareness in both patients and Health care professionals

With an ever changing media landscape, the creative industries steers where and how communication is put in an increasingly digital manner. The digital world allows unbridled access to information and guidance as well as misinformation and hearsay so just how can the creative industry help solve this?

Has Pharmaceutical marketing and design made self medication a challenge with patients

With growing pressures on the NHS and on GPs to provide on time and effective care for patients advice is growing to get patients to start looking to treat themselves for minor ailments. But has the abundance of options and over complicated packaging designs made self care nothing short of impossible?

The mental health crisis within the creative industries / What is causing the mental health crisis within the creative industries

Last year, Ulster University was commissioned by inspire, a mental health charity, to review the state of mental health within the industry. It found that our industry was 3 times more likely to suffer from mental health conditions within our careers, namely depression and anxiety. So what can we do to improve this? what could we do to spark the conversation in earnest.

Preliminary interview candidates

So to help inform the direction and questions behind the interview i started by looking at who are my closest links which could help with my topic of “Finding your identity as a designer”.

Tracy Stockdale and Ed Martin –
My bosses at Stockdale Martin LTD both have a long history in medical marketing and built their own firm themselves. Stockdale Martin ltd works primarily in Medical expert and professional marketing. The plus side to interviewing Ed and Tracy is the fact that they employ an in house design team and are active in the interview process, this will give the perspective from a employer, this would help the interview towards students and graduates but might not give the right angle for myself.

Andre Knott MA –
The creative director at Stockdale Martin LTD. Andre runs the design team at SM and also holds an post grad degree himself. As a key part of the interview process and is active within the creative community he is also well connected within the industry as well. Benefits to interviewing andre is the arsenal of experience and being a mentor like character within the company means this is potentially a subject he has already discussed with others. He himself is very much a Technical jack of all trades within the company designing and building websites, emails and digital solutions as well as print items.

David Pollard –
A 35 year veteran of the creative industry, designer and creative artworker and my Dad. As a freelancer David has worked in plenty of different companies and alongside many other designers of all different experience levels. As my Dad it provides a 2 generation designer perspective in the interview could yield really interesting points of view, especially when it comes to looking at how identity of designers has changed, in terms of developing a an idea of how to develop an identity, David has had to keep this up to date to make sure he can carry on freelancing, so finding out what he does to keep himself in the pool of regular freelancers.

With these contacts ready to help i already have a base to work from, however after reviewing my Linkedin profile i do have other contacts available including previous tutors from college and university.

Investigative topics

In order to kick off my investigation in the design industry I need to start with a subject or topic. Through conversation and reading of articles I’ve built a list of various topics that has impact on my career in the design industry and in fact the design industry as a whole. These topic titles are

  • Changing skill set of junior designers
  • Bred its impact on design industry
  • Adapting to technological change
  • Staying relevant
  • Creativity with fast turnaround
  • Having a holistic perspective
  • Being unique
  • Cultivating human experience
  • Being multi skilled
  • Design thinking in the medical world
  • Design as a strategy rather than visual language
  • Finding your identity as a designer

After narrowing them down I have now got these topics

  • Brexit’s impact on design – important and controversial, Brexit’s will undoubtedly have a huge impact on our industry however as the moment as nothing has happened all the research involved will be built on speculative information plus with it being such a divisive subject I would need to conduct more than just one interview. This would certainly be a topic to cover after we leave where the effects become more evident
  • Having a holistic perspective – Dealing with a lot of commercial clients as well as industrial clients gives a lot of narrow minded briefs, can i have a logo or i need a leaflet. But as designers should we be encouraging our clients to think broadly. I think this topic is a bit weak, it focuses on a designer client relationship which is personal to the designer.
  • Design strategy rather than visual language – The topic of design thinking is quite a wide subject area and is very interesting to me and is a industry area i want to work in myself. Once again i think this is a subject that would require a couple of interviews to get the full picture as Design as a strategy could totally depend on the industry you approach so getting an interview client side as well as with a designer would be key in a investigative interview.
  • Being multi skilled – Boring as a title but interesting as a topic when broadened. Instead of just “should designers be multi-skilled” it should also include the changing skill set of designers, that way the investigation could use more contextual research and look to inform a future prediction
  • Finding your identity as a designer – An important topic to any young or graduate designer, the identity of a designer and how they find it will push the designer into a career path and ultimately decide where they go. This to me is a very important topic as this early in my career i took a job as a designer in the first firm i could and now i must decide a more future proof plan while building a name for myself.

For this project i feel the Finding your identity as a designer to be the topic of choice, this topic can help inform my own career while still meeting requirements for the project. Now to find the candidates for my interview.

Thinking with Design for Global Health

What has the world of Design got to help the world of Medicine?

The answer is simply “Design Thinking”. A designers ability to take part in empathethic research then respond in a visual way or in a problem saving way is what makes them a designer.

The aim of the conference was two fold, show medical professionals that a designer can help and how they do it. And secondly show Both medical professionals and design professionals how a co design approach can build much better and much more successful projects. Through a series of talks from various characters form the worlds of medicine and design, the RSM built a day that ended with case studies into how it helps, solidifying the theory.

I had two main take aways from this day:

  • Use emapthetic reasearch to build better more human centred concepts
  • There is a very real need for designers to help the medical industry.

The use of empathetic research is a simple one really, use face to face studies and surveys instead of just googling stats in the first port of call. This helps build a more real face to the stats that usually just sound blank and lifeless, therefore giving you a character to use in your demographic research which should now not only exist but should have you building fictional characters as well. Then when this has happened “walk a mile in their shoes” physically life the problem that your trying to fold to the best you can. If , for instance, you can build a well closer to a village but the well takes twice as long to pump is it an effective solution? was the distance the problem in the first place? could it actually just be how they get there?

The need for designers within the medical industry did peak my interest. See i already work within medical marketing design but the dream now is to remove the marketing bit. I love the idea of working on designs that potentially could improve lives and knowing that there is a need for that, and now i know the people. Well I now have a new career goal. (2018). Thinking with design for global health. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2018].