We have an exhibition each year of student projects
For students, the Visualising Mental Health initiative starts life purely as a 3rd Year, first semester assignment they need to complete. If I remember my university days correctly, this means that for many of them, they simply just want to get it done and do not necessarily form a strong bond with their project.
What the VMH team tries to do however is incorporate a number of components in the process that seek to connect the student groups more closely to their project.
- In the briefing session I give them early in the year I try to communicate to the students the genuine passion and interest I have for the project.
- We get the students working with actual psychologists in developing their ideas. This helps them realise that the projects have potential real-world value and use.
- We get the students to present their ideas and their final prototypes to the participating psychologists. This adds a little bit of pressure to take the concepts seriously.
- Starting in 2019, we put their projects up on this website so their work is public facing.
One of the biggest things we do to try and inspire the students to connect more closely with their project, is have a formal exhibition of the projects during Mental Health Week in October.
All of our exhibitions to date (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) have been held in the Kerry Packer Gallery at the Hawke Centre. See this past exhibition note. They have been incredibly supportive of the exhibition and provide financial and in-kind support to help us have a formal opening night and everything.
Students prepare their projects as tall posters that adorn the walls. Product prototypes are displayed on plinths. If we have them, animations are displayed on a connected screen.
We promote the exhibition heavily to those working in the mental health field through the Psychology and Health Forum, Institute of Private Practising Psychologists and the South Australian Branch of the Australian Psychological Society.
On exhibition opening night, we get the students to stick close to their projects and help explain their ideas to exhibition attendees. We’ve had excellent attendance at the last two exhibitions.
We’ve been lucky that each year, the exhibition has been opened by someone with a significant role in the mental health community. This lends gravitas to the event in signalling that these projects have genuine potential as clinical tools or public communication devices.
In 2016 it was Shelley Rogers – the State Chair of the SA Branch of the Australian Psychological Society.
In 2017 it was Mark Aiston – Australian sports journalist and sports presenter – who is now a strong advocate for mental health issues.
In 2018 it was the Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade
In 2019 it was the SA Mental Health Commissioner Chris Burns.
The exhibition then remains open for the whole of Mental Health Week.
One of the simplest ways that you can support the Visualising Mental Health Project is to simply come along and see the exhibition when it is on. And also to tell your friends.
Here are some photos from exhibitions including an example of the invitation that we send out.