Mental health is making itself known now more than ever, especially in these times of hardship and isolation. Simple tasks become increasingly harder and everyday life alters to match the anxiety and insecurities that take root inside. Access to mental health is not available to everyone and even then there is discrimination and stigmas that prevent those trying to get help.
The Spire's goal is to connect people to those around them, the world is lacking understanding and compassion for one another. Everyone struggles at some point in their life; the goal is to show people that they are not alone and there are people who care.
"Globally, more than 70% of people with mental illness receive no treatment from health care staff."
- National Institute of Health; Mental Stigma, Help Seeking, and Public Health Programs
"Mental illness is a general term for a group of illnesses that may include symptoms that can affect a person’s thinking, perceptions, mood or behavior. Mental illness can make it difficult for someone to cope with work, relationships and other demands. The relationship between stress and mental illness is complex, but it is known that stress can worsen an episode of mental illness."
- Better Health; Types of Mental Health Issues and Illnesses
To further my own research I put together an anonymous survey asking several questions about personal struggles with mental health. It was important to learn about other features as well, such as ways to cope, goals, and the ability to manage emotions. What does mental health mean to everyone?
The feelings related to spiraling of a mental health breakdown through the use of transforming melancholy music and abstract visuals; simulating the drop in moral in those suffering from mental health issues. Each wall was to be covered in a screen that tracked with the headphones as people walked down its curving hallway; starting with something bright and cheerful before coming to a point in the center of despair.
Initially starting with a simple low-fi paper sketch for shape and reference I used a top down view to plan out what each screened wall was going to represent in the downward spiral. After making a digital hi-fi wireframe I sectioned out each screen. I knew that the visuals mixed with a strong soundtrack would be the best way to convey the actual emotions associated with depression and other mental health issues.
Each wall was planned out to be associated with certain feelings and emotions ranging from happiness at the start to absence within the center. It was also important that on the way back out of the exhibit the audio changes to match the lift back up from the darkness. The ascend back into the light represents that there are ways to break out of unhealthy mental health cycles.
Here I wanted to test out how narrow hallways could impact the experience and try to mimic the feeling of the walls closing in around the audience as they got further into the spirals center, making sure to keep in mind how many people may be too many.
Low-fi 3D Model
This is where I started laying out the base for the 3D model, keeping in mind scale when it came to the width of the hallway; it gets gradually gets smaller the further in, but does not get any narrower than 6ft wide. To combat crowds there will be staff at the front directing those in line when to enter, keeping track of how many are already inside the exhibit.
Audio and Visual Screens
Since the audio and visuals are such a big part of the project it was important to find examples. The video aspect will involve abstract shapes and close ups of objects to demonstrate the different touch points throughout the exhibit, but the audio is what really sets the mood. Noises and sounds that cause more tense reactions will be closer to the middle while serene and calming audio will only be at the start/exit.