Troix Kokich Care Package
LecturersMark Bradford, Kerry Ann Lee
Late 2019 through to the beginning of 2020 Australia was struck with severe bushfires. 2,779 homes were destroyed, and 34 people were killed. I remember watching the broadcasts and thinking “I’d like to help.” After researching donation methods and disaster relief systems I found most natural disaster victims will experience mental distress, such as anxiety or stress. There is plenty of research on the subject, yet wellbeing resources following these traumatic events are uncommon, or are overloaded with unorganised information. My response is Care Package; a wellbeing resource kit for natural disaster victims that serves as a conceptual exploration into how communication design can help manage and facilitate mental health recovery following disasters.
The aim for Care Package is to spark discussion surrounding the mental aid of disaster victims and create a difference for them. I wanted every person who interacted with it to find at least one mental change they could incorporate into their life. After chatting with victims of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake I learnt how trauma following disasters effects varying ages. Younger demographics are often affected by the event itself, while adult demographics are concerned about the lack of clarity in their situation. From this I decided to develop an accessible mixture of methods for improving wellbeing after disasters, through the framework of providing support, security and entertainment with families in mind.
Disaster victims often don’t have access to anything digital in severe situations. Therefore I kept my ideation focused on physical outputs with a budget restriction of $25 (the standard starting amount for donation services), and gave the design a secondary purpose of being entirely recyclable by embedding the cardboard with seeds.
My strategy focused on developing a range of content with a progressive experience. Development started with research on approaching and improving mental health through visual and written language. These aspects are specifically phrased as suggestions to provide direction, rather than telling someone how they should recover.
After talking to disaster recovery expert Anne Leadbeater I designed through the lens of self-efficacy theory. This theory suggests that belief in oneself to complete a task improves their willingness to perform said task. Disaster impact can be dulled by a victims willingness to incorporate positive mental adjustments and become involved with their community. To make this manageable for victims, Care Package focuses on breaking down steps to improve mental health through interpersonal, and intrapersonal interactions. It starts with surface ideas, such as providing tea and blankets. Followed by guides for wellbeing exercises, and pathways to support groups and healthlines. The package can also be reused as a board game, which focuses on grounding exercises that encourage interpersonal, and intrapersonal interaction for families and communities.
Overall Care Package is a starting point. Mental recovery from disasters is an international subject that has room to grow beyond a New Zealand framework. But I hope the ideas presented through Care Package spark some thought towards the current approaches to mental health recovery following disasters.