This project sought to solve a very broad (wicked) problem by first defining the problem through research and then executing a "magical" outcome, turning fiction into reality.
Research started as a group synthesis exercise before branching off to create design strategy and outcomes on an individual basis.
Visual Designer, Research
Group research and synthesis focused on mental health as a broad, wicked problem to solve. Starting wide through secondary research our group began to synthesis and narrow down sub areas of mental health in which we chose to focus. The three sub topics were childhood mental disorder, prevention of suicide in youth, and my topic which was isolation and loneliness.
Problem to Solve
1 in 5 Americans feel lonely or socially isolated with 43% of seniors feeling lonely on a regular basis. These numbers continue to rise as we’ve seen a 10% increase in people living along over the past decade. Currently, 25% of the U.S. population lives alone.
To counter these issues, increased social interaction has shown to be a viable method to reduce feelings of loneliness with increased social interaction generally occurring in two ways. An outside person or group forces interaction through intervention, or the patient must exercise self-care on their own. Both methods present their own set of challenges.
Questions to Answer
The goal is to design a system that builds long lasting relationships between people experiencing loneliness and the volunteers wanting to help.
The solution is a personal status system designed to encourage in-person interaction in order to reduce loneliness.
Users place a status module on the exterior of their living space and that module communicates their current mental state and whether a neighbor should intervene. Neighbors or volunteers check on each others statuses and interact as needed. As a result, relationships are built over time and loneliness among the community decreases.
With a system in place that builds community while honoring both patients and volunteers, a healthy reduction in feelings of loneliness is achievable. A reduction in loneliness increases chances for a longer and healthier life.