MARTIN THE MONKEY

Coughs and colds are easy to talk about. Try talking about mental health. And with kids.

My partner and I wrote a storybook and accompanying activity to introduce the subject of mental health to students in grades 1 - 3. The form of a storybook using animals and a simple activity makes the introduction of a foreign subject a comfortable and familiar experience for students. 

Goal:

Introduce the subject of mental health conditions and create discussion among young students and family. 

Skills:

UX Design

Design Research

Systems Thinking

Partner:

Grace Dai

BRAINSTORMING

We brainstormed through ecosystem maps, concept models, stock and flow diagrams, and experience maps.

INTERVIEWS

I recruited educators, teaching at different grade levels, as well as a college student who has lived with ADHD and dyslexia since she was a child.

 

We gained insight about how both parties, individuals with and without mental conditions, interact with one another concerning mental conditions and mental health general.

Kacey B.

Professor

California College of the Arts

Laurie W.

High School Teacher

Silver Creek High School

Mary P.

Elementary School Teacher

Silver Oak Elementary School

Victoria B.

College Student

California College of the Arts

Interviewees

INSIGHTS AND ISSUES

  • minimal training/review for teachers 

  • lack of personnel and staff to help students

  • stigmatization of mental health issues

“Over the last 25 years of teaching, I had a total of 6 - 8 hours of formal [mental health] instruction.”

-Laurie W.

“There is no periodic training - usually it’s CPR training every 2 years.”

- Mary N.

“I felt like I was going to be viewed as stupid, I felt really embarrassed.”

- Victoria B.

FINALIZED MAPS AND DIAGRAMS

After finalizing maps and diagrams of the system, we brainstormed a story and activity to introduce mental health to young students. 

PLANNING AND PROTOTYPING

FINAL PRODUCT

The final storybook uses colorful images, drawn by Grace, and easy to understand language to create an engaging lesson in the classroom.

The students have a short take-home activity drawing and writing about what they learned. Parents are supplied with a summary of the story and information about the mental health condition on the back of the activity sheet. We also created a quick info review card about the mental health condition for teachers to refer to.

FINAL TAKEAWAYS AND NEXT STEPS

After completing this project, I learned that there is much work to be done as far as education and discussion of mental health are concerned. I want to learn how else mental health education can be communicated.

I have reached out to several schools for their opinions as well as the prospect to use the book in their classrooms. The book received positive feedback and interest from teachers. There is realistic possibility it will be implemented in lower grade classrooms.

© 2019 Kendra Wong. All Rights Reserved.