Combating Loneliness

Solving Wicked Problems

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

Four banners indicating mental health status

Assignment Components

  • Group Research
  • Group Synthesis
  • Individual Research
  • Design Strategy
  • Design Outcome


Group 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.

Stickies from group synthesis process Group research Miro board with mind map
Mental health stats Strive for five program website

Design strategy

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

  1. How can volunteers(those that want to help) be engaged with patients without causing anxiety?
  2. How can patients self-heal without regressing from lack of accountability?
  3. How can these two groups be linked together as a community to form lasting relationships?

The goal is to design a system that builds long lasting relationships between people experiencing loneliness and the volunteers wanting to help.

The pervasiveness of loneliness Individuals and volunteers Personas Neighborhood with banners displayed
The risks of loneliness Maritime signal flags Mental health status banners Green banner hanging in a window
Intervention vs. self-care Neighborhood watch logo House with blue banner on the porch Project goals


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.

Desired Outcomes
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.

Final poster design


Early poster iteration with warm colors
Early poster iteration with cool colors