aimed at destigmitizing mental health in rural India by providing the students with the help they need in a safe and non judgemental environment
Service design, UX/UI design
Over the course if 4 weeks, I designed a three step service between students, teachers and trained counsellors to initiate a conversation around mental health and provide students with the required help, in rural India. to illustrate the context, problem and service, I scripted, acted in and edited a video prototype.
March - April 2022 (4 weeks)
Service designer, UX/UI designer
Adobe Illustrator, Imovies
while 20% of the population suffers from mental health issues, only the 12% located in urban areas seek aid
snippet from video prototype highlighting the problem
Samvedana is a three step service between students, teachers and trained counsellors in rural India to initiate a conversation around mental health and provide students with the required help.
check-in sheets for students
Students have check - in sheets printed in their notebooks.
The check - in sheets ask students how they are doing on that particular day with a three options to choose from.
Each morning, they have the option of filling out these sheets.
reference sheets for teachers
When students submit their notebooks fro corrections, teachers are trained to look-out for these filled out check-in sheets.
Teachers collect these check - in sheets.
Further, teachers look to a reference sheet, which suggests ways of modifying the class schedule based on the overall mental state of the students.
The check-in sheets are submitted to an in-house counsellor who inputs the students responses and tracks the same.
Upon noticing that a student has not been doing well for several days, the counsellor reaches out.
During the interaction, the counsellor and student hav conversations and perform some healing activities which the student is advised to practice.
snippet from video prototype highlighting the interaction with check-in sheets
snippet from video prototype highlighting the interaction with reference sheets
snippet from video prototype highlighting the interaction with counsellor
"My children are fine. Nothing is wrong with them. We don't have time to think about this. We just need to work."
Back home in India, my house help hails from a village close to Delhi. I saw her to be the best candidate to interview as her children go to public school in the village, while she works in the city, away from them.
Conducting an informal interview in the format of a conversation not only elicited very raw and authentic insights, but also allowed for the participant to feel like she was talking to a friend who was genuinely curious and concerned about the health of her children. To make her feel more comfortable, I spoke in Hindi, a language she is most comfortable speaking in.
Do you know what mental health is?
क्या आप जानते हैं मानसिक स्वास्थ्य क्या है ?
Would you mind explaining why you feel uncomfortable talking about health?
क्या आप यह बताना चाहेंगे कि आप असहज क्यों महसूस करते हैं ?
Do your children know what mental health is?
क्या आपके बच्चे जानते हैं कि मानसिक स्वास्थ्य क्या है ?
Based on your knowledge are there any mental healthcare centre in your village?
क्या आपके गांव में कोई मानसिक स्वास्थ्य केंद्र है ?
Now that I have explained what mental health do you think your children might have struggled with it?
अब जब मैंने समझा दिया है कि मानसिक स्वास्थ्य क्या है, तो क्या आपको लगता है कि आपके बच्चे इससे जूझ रहे होंगे ?
"Bad memories of when my daughter feel i'll back in my village and it took us one hour to reach the hospital."
Rural residents travel long distances to receive services, are less likely to be insured, and providers are less likely to recognize a mental illness.
"Both my children seem to be healthy. They have never said anything."
Some rural residents may not be aware of the signs of mental health problems.
"I don’t really know. There is a hospital which is quite far away and a small clinic in the village."
Chronic shortages of mental health professionals exist and mental health providers are more likely to practice in urban centres.
"Also we don’t have the time to think about mental health. We need to put food on the table for our children as that is our priority."
Rural residents may be more susceptible to the stigma of needing or receiving mental healthcare in small communities.
concept development - key points
know the space, people and their concerns.
define the context, identify the setting
A stakeholders map, allowed me to view a zoomed out perspective of the conversations around mental health in rural India. Through my research I mapped out the scope of the mental health conversation from those suffering, to their immediate surroundings and to larger organizations and society as a whole.
mental health support group
struggling with mental health
cannot afford healthcare services
afraid to ask for help because of societal judgements
Choosing a school in a village in rural India as the setting of the service. In order to check-in with students daily, doing so through their education which is a part of their daily routine, is most suitable. It is easily accessible, does not require them to be at a particular place and thus not disrupt their's or their family's day to day routine.
Identifying students as the users of the service, as they are the newest generation of any family, who have the ability to change the whole family's perception. Further, they are not yet completely influenced by stigmas and stereotypes, and thus there is scope for change.
removing any scope of judgement
One of the main points brought up as I pitched my service for feedback was the aspect of being judged by peers and teachers. This stems from the core problem of the stigma attached to mental health in rural India. Thus in an effort to maintain a comfortable environment, I included certain actions in the service which would maintain anonymity. Mapping out the service in a service blueprint, highlighting the onstage, backstage and supporting actions sparked some ideas.
students enters the classroom
student interacts with the check-in sheet if they feel the need to
teacher goes through the notebooks and fills out check-in sheets
students interacts with the counsellor
teacher refers to the reference sheet which suggests ways of modifying the class schedule based on the overall mental health of the class.
counsellor inputs the students responses, analyses them and reaches out.
check-in sheets are printed in the students notebooks
All check-in sheets are printed in the student's notebooks which only they have access to. If a student wants to fill one out, their fellow students will not know. This allows the interaction to be anonymous and responses to be honest.
removing power dynamics
Check-in sheets are made available to students in their notebooks instead of being distributed by the teacher. This prevents the impact of the power dynamics between the student and teacher from interfering removing any scope for judgement/intimidation.
Filling out check-in sheets is voluntary. Students have access to them and can fill them out whenever they wish to. It is not a mandatory activity, thus making it more meaningful.
high tech vs low tech
Considering the context of the service i.e. a village in rural India which has limited technological resources, I designed physical paper check-in sheets which students would find in their notebooks.
Originally, I had considered designing an app for the service, which students, teachers and counsellors would use to interact.
However I realized with accessibility being one of the pain points, not all families in rural India have access to high speed connections/technology.
Thus, I decided to design a paper check-in sheet that would be provided by schools in the student's notebooks.
what would the residents of rural India think?
presenting Samvedana to the real user group
Due to the short duration of this project, I was unable to present Samvedana to the real user group to get their thoughts on the effectiveness of this service. Since I'm extremely passionate about this cause and have spent so much time into it, I do take it forward when I return to India or at least present it to my house help.
designing for the lower economic strata
This project gave me the opportunity to design for a community that is often overlooked when talking about advancement. Due to lack of awareness regarding the benefits of advancement, communities living in rural India are not receptive to change. Thus Samvedana allowed me to dive deep into understanding this user group and to learn to adapt my designs according to their lifestyle and thought processes.
designing a story
Designing a service with multiple touch points and stakeholders involved has strengthened my ability to tell a story. Presenting Samvedana as a documentary, gave me the opportunity to explain the service in great detail giving the viewer the whole narrative from the problem to the solution.
attempting a new medium
Presenting Samvedana in a video format exposed me to a number of filming and editing tools which I had been hesitant to use before. Acting out the scenes and stitching them together, writing the script and recording voice overs, finding suitable sound effects and dabbling in text animations were all elements out of my comfort zone. However, I was confident that only dynamic media would to justice to explaining Samvedana.