The 2020 cohort of students have been given their VMH topics

Visualising Mental Health (VMH) gets 3rd year Communication Design students to find innovative and effective ways of communicating mental health related concepts to the general public.

Each year, the students, who form into groups, select from a range of topics provided to them by the team of psychologist who work on the project.

The topics are provided in the form of ‘briefs’ – 2-3 page overviews of the topic with a challenge statement, indicating what we hope the students will do with the topic.

The students are first introduced to the topics by me, at a presentation I give during one of their first lectures of the year.

This year’s group kindly allowed me to take a selfie:

During the presentation this year, one of the other psychologists working on the VMH initiative (Richard) gave an excellent 5-minute speech reminding and encouraging students to look within to find a connection with the topics. We’re all psychologists to some extent – interested in the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of ourselves and other people. It was a powerful antidote to the dynamic that often emerges where students don’t feel they have the necessary expertise to create content around these topics.

This year, students got to pick from 6 topics, the most we’ve ever provided in a single year. Clicking the links will take you to each of the topics.



Being Isolated

Mental Fitness


Climate Change Distress

A few of these topics (emotions, mental fitness, empathy and courtesy) are topics that have been used in previous years and led to some really interesting student projects. We are repeating them because we know they are reliable performers.

Being Isolated and Climate Change Distress are two brand-new topics for this year, added because of their increasing relevance and discussion in the wider community. The Being Isolated topic has taken on a brand new meaning with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Tomorrow I get to spend time with the student groups, helping them understand better the topic they’ve chosen and brainstorming ideas. These session are called Design Studios and they are one of my favourite events of the year.

Very excited to see what the students produce this year!