We’re really chuffed to be able to announce that we’ve won an award!
The Creative Conscience Award is an annual competition with a bit of a difference – it focuses on design projects with a social impact. The main starting points provided for the brief are Mental Health, Equality, Conscious Consumption, and Climate Crisis, as well as an open brief.
Giving something back to the UKs emergency services
Given what’s going on in the world, it was perhaps pre-determined that I should focus my design on the category of Mental Health and look at a group of people who are particularly often ‘missed out’ on the equation – our Emergency Services.
This is a section of our community who are often called upon when we are facing trauma, mental instability, and the emotional fallout of injury and illness. Still, we neglect to consider that they are on the frontline dealing with often unimaginable pressures every day.
Like no other, this is a section of the workforce who are expected to be able to deal with all kinds of emergencies and, in many cases, feel that they have to cope with those situations on their own or rely only on the team around them who are going through the same things.
“It’s when you’re on your own afterwards you have time to process, and think about it and everything hits you at once”PC, West Midlands Police
A lack of available mental health support
As I began to look further into it, I uncovered some worrying facts and stories. I heard reports of police officers suffering from varying degrees of stress and anxiety, who continued to work under the same pressure, being forced to manage their issues alone without support.
I learned about more and more instances of physical abuse from the very people they were trying to help, resulting in injury and even death.
I read worrying statistics of members of the emergency services and military who, due to immense pressures, had attempted to take their own lives.
So I set about researching things that could help raise awareness of the issue and offer advice, help, and support to those who needed it.
“Now, ‘lone-wolf’ or ‘active shooter’ situations, the policy is that the first to arrive on-scene go straight in”
Armed Response Officer, West Mercia Police
Create a discreet and self-managed tool
The concept of a self-help/self-awareness app appealed to me because I felt that from speaking to those who were affected, mainly focussing on the police force, it could be used as a discreet tool – many of the officers I spoke to felt there was a stigma in the force around mental health, and the possibility of simply ‘raising awareness’ with the general public had the danger of undermining their authority, and in some cases making them a target for abuse.
By allowing them to log on to an app, I could then offer them a way of recording their mental state and give them a space to ‘talk out’ their feelings in private, without judgement. In this, the app could offer them practical advice based on their own circumstances, helping them gain control over their feelings and take action.
This was a very different project for me – it meant that I had to delve into a subject that I previously had only a basic understanding of. It forced me to think about ways of designing something for a particular set of people. From the styles and colours I used to the language and tone, every element had to come together in a way which could be clearly understood, was visually impactful, yet made the user feel that the space within it was peaceful, personal, and friendly – even the name ‘OPPO’, meaning ‘Friend’, gives a sense of support with no judgement.
All in all, it was a fantastic project to work on. And clearly, one which appealed to the judges too.
Please take a look at our case study for more project details.