Not only can design help settle your mind through creative pursuits, it can also result in products that enhance mental health in other ways. Here are five ideas that employ good design to improve mental wellbeing – from the very simple to the more complex and innovative.
Designed in 2014 by anxiety sufferer Ramon Telfer, the calming stone prevents panic attacks by picking up and monitoring your heart rate, pulsing and glowing in time with your heartbeat to soothe you. You can also play carefully selected audio through the stone for a more immersive sensory experience. While a Kickstarter campaign to fund these was ultimately unsuccessful, you can contact the maker directly at [email protected]
Not all designs for anxiety treatment need to be high-tech. The Anxiety Blob from Sweatpants & Coffee is an extremely simple toy in a plush fabric that gives you something warm and tactile to hug when you need it. It’s been so popular that the website routinely sells out. Grab one from the Sweatpants & Coffee site or from The Depressed Cake Shop, which employs another deceptively simple strategy to promote mental health (“Where there’s cake, there’s hope. And there’s always cake”)
OK, so you can’t actually buy this yet, but when you can, you know it’s going to sell out immediately. It’s the brainchild of design student Yi-Fei Chen, who was so crushed by the inflexible demands of her tutor that she couldn’t stop crying. Her solution? Collect the tears, freeze them into bullets and shoot them at her tormentor. Because revenge can be good therapy too, right?
Another example of simple-yet-effective design, the weighted blanket can assist with everything from insomnia to Asperger’s, by increasing the levels of serotonin and melatonin in the body. On a more psychological level, sleeping under a weighted blanket can provide a feeling of security and safety that’s extremely calming (one user likened it to sleeping with her cat laying on her).
Tools for Therapy
Essentially a collecting of shaped objects, paper and a workbook, this kit was designed by Nicolette Bodewes as a way to instigate creative therapy through visualisation. Drawing on her own therapy experiences and Jungian archetypes, the collection is designed to encourage communication between patient and therapist. The pieces themselves resemble strangely shaped building blocks made from a selection of a materials that encourage different sensory responses (and are cheap to produce) such as wood, cork, marble, leather and tin.