The fabric of our lives is woven from the things we spend our time doing, and those we choose to do them with. This is part of the human experience.
Previous research offers insight into how occupational engagement (our day-to-day activities) can facilitate mental wellbeing for individuals, particularly for those in the process of recovery from mental illness. Dr Daniel Sutton’s research and COE model* proposes how we can shift between four different ‘modes of doing’ to achieve balance and create meaning in our lives. For anyone facing mental wellbeing challenges, learning about how to become ‘unstuck’ from certain modes and returning back to a more balanced state is a significant part of recovery.
A body of research to date indicates that improving mental health literacy and sharing hopeful recovery narratives can lead to better health outcomes for those experiencing mental distress. In addition, advocates for young adult mental wellbeing are needed now more than ever.
This resource was proudly constructed not only for, but with rangatahi who have lived experience.
Clinical staff and clients from Hāpai Ora–an early intervention in psychosis service for young adults (previously under ADHB)–as well as young adults from DHB mental health services across the country were invited into the collaborative design process as experts. Workshops, interviews, and creative drawing activities were intentionally designed to create culturally safe spaces for participants to kōrero and share the personal stories of mental wellness that bring the pages of the final resource to life.
The language and imagery used in the guidebook counter the notion of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ states of occupational engagement. Instead, a spotlight moment is given to how each form of ‘doing’ offers a unique opportunity for an individual to reconnect with a part of themself on their wellbeing journey. Experts were quick to celebrate the light-heartedness and optimism surrounding experiences that are too often associated with guilt or shame.
Perhaps one of the most heartening outcomes was creating a resource that demonstrates the potential illustration and drawing-based activities have in complementing traditional therapeutic approaches within mental health services. Even beyond this context, The ‘Doing Well’ Guidebook is relevant to anyone and everyone willing to visualise their own story of everyday wellness–no matter where they are on their journey!
Read more about Janette's Masters project at https://hdl.handle.net/10292/15479
Purchase a copy for yourself here: The GHD Shop
Special thanks to the Hāpai Ora and Te Whatu Ora nurses, psychologists, and occupational therapists who have integrated this resource in their work every day with rangatahi navigating their mental wellbeing.
*COE model refers to ‘A Contiuum of Occupational Engagement’ from Sutton, D. J., Hocking, C. S., & Smythe, L. A. (2012). A phenomenological study of occupational engagement in recovery from mental illness.
Here's what Janette had to say of her Masters experience:
"I joined the team at Good Health Design asa research assistant for the remainder of this year (2022) after I finished my Masters. Next year (2023) I am joining Fisher & Paykel Healthcare to advocate for accessible and engaging educational health information for people all over the world using the medical devices that they produce.
The Masters has definitely changed me for the better in many aspects of life. I am a more confident, socially aware, critical, and empathetic designer because of my experiences with Good HealthDesign. I learned how to successfully navigate complex projects with clinicians and healthcare service users amidst the chaos of a pandemic. I also learned the importance of using design to create opportunities for non-designers to be invited into the design process and this sparked a new passion for interdisciplinary collaboration.
Career-wise, a wider array of opportunities has opened up for me that I did not have when I finished my undergrad degree.The most important takeaway from the Masters was learning how to push the boundaries of what I thought I could do in my discipline (illustration/communication design). I have found it rewarding to then use these design innovations to create a real positive impact in the lives and healthcare experiences of others."