Keep your head
It is high time to take care of our mental health.
Mental health still remains a taboo subject. Talking about mental health problems is shameful and, consequently, seeking help may be stigmatised. Most of us tend to think that mental health problems will never affect us. However, it turns out that a quarter of Poles have experienced at least one mental disorder at any point of time in their lifetime. The most common mental health disorder is depression. According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 320 million people are now living with depression worldwide. But this is not all. Current predictions indicate that depression will become one of the leading health problems in the next 20 years.
Our general wellbeing has also deteriorated significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and researchers warn that more people than ever will need professional mental health care and support after the pandemic has subsided. The pandemic has caused us to lose a sense of safety, predictability, control and security, which has increased anxiety. The psychological effects of COVID-19 are already noticeable among the adolescents, the data show that the number of youths with clinically significant symptoms of depression has increased by 44 percent.
There can be no true health without mental health. Mental health is the foundation of proper functioning in society. That is why the exhibition "Keep Your Head" will present some easy ways to take care of our mental health and to keep our balance on a daily basis. Visitors will also learn about therapy supporting projects and find out about contemporary solutions aimed at improving the delivery of mental health support. It is high time to take good care of our minds. When the pandemic is over, let us try to become more empathetic and to show solidarity and understanding for people with mental disorders, because many of us are experiencing them right now.
Alma Therapy Dolls
A set of six uniquely textured therapeutic wooden toys. Each of the figurines helps to express a different emotion: fear, pain, emptiness, love, anger or a sense of security.
Contemporary child psychology uses a variety of methods to help young patients heal from trauma. Play therapy has also been increasingly incorporated into the therapeutic processes in recent years. However, mental health professionals faced some problems as they had limited access to dedicated toys, so they had to use objects made by themselves or bought in a supermarket. Designers have arrived at a solution. Israeli designer Yaara Nusboim, through consultation and collaboration with psychologists and children, has developed the Alma Therapy Dolls. The figurines have very abstract shapes to avoid evoking any associations with pop culture, and are therefore open to interpretation. Each toy is made of polished maple wood and flexible silicone, smooth and pleasant to the touch, to provide great sensory experiences. Observations so far have shown that every child reacts differently to the dolls and plays with them in their own unique way.
Mouse for busy people
A computer mouse that runs away when you work too long.
Samsung Balance Mouse is a computer mouse concept that the Korean tech giant has created in collaboration with INNORED agency and BKID studio. At first glance, it looks and works like a normal wireless device of its kind. However, when the user is working too late, it puts its "ears" up and runs away from the hand, just like a real mouse. It doesn't stop there. The gadget is supposed to be clever enough to shed its outer 'fur' after being caught, revealing motion sensors that effectively prevent another catch.
The project was created in South Korea where an average worker clocks up 1967 working hours per year, which makes the nation second most overloaded and fatigued population in the world (Poland also ranks high on the list, as we work an average of 1806 hours per year). The escaping mouse might come in handy for those who started working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, have trouble setting rigid time limits to working hours and spend lots of overtime hours working nights and weekends, which is definitely not good for their mental health.
A toolkit that facilitates communication between a therapist and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
The issue of child sexual abuse has never been talked about so much as it is now, but despite increasing public awareness, treatment of this specific trauma is still a big challenge. One of the major problems in therapy is communication. Victims dealing with, and processing the trauma they experienced years ago feel great shame and guilt which makes them resilient to talk about painful memories. Spanish designer Adriana Sala Nadal and her project Balisa come to the rescue. Balisa is a series of abstract therapeutic tools that are intended to facilitate communication between the therapist and the survivor of child sexual abuse. Each of the 21 pieces has a completely unique colour, weight and texture, and each represents different emotion.
The modules can be stacked together and they form a specific 'language' to give the victim an additional opportunity to tell the psychologist about the trauma experienced in the past. Balisa therapy tools, developed in collaboration with survivors of child sexual abuse and specialised psychologists, show how design can impact the therapy and support healing processes of mental health disorders.
A project to popularise gardening, – an activity with therapeutic benefits.
A 2015 study by researchers at the Universities of Westminister and Essex proved that gardening reduces the risk of mental health problems. The scientists showed that people who did gardening activities and took care of plants for at least 30 minutes a week reported better moods afterwards, had higher self-esteem, felt less tension and were less likely to get angry and depressed. These observations and the evidence for the positive effects of gardening are not new. In psychology, the concept of horticultural therapy, or garden therapy, has been known for years. It is increasingly often prescribed to patients by doctors, for example in Great Britain. A therapeutic garden is also operated in Gdynia.
Magda Mojsiejuk took advantage of this knowledge while working on the "Gardenfit" project. This initiative started by a graduate of the School of Form presents the ways to popularise gardening among young people. A core element of the campaign is a photo shoot presenting gardening as a fashionable form of physical activity. The project makers also showed some gardening tools combined with 1 kg exercise weights. Another goal of popularisation of gardening is to increase greenery in cities and villages, and to show the communities how the food we eat grows.
Weighted accessories to help with stress and sleep problems.
Weighted blankets have been known among mental health professionals for years, and have been used successfully for therapeutic purposes. A heavy therapy blanket weighs about 10 percent of the user's body weight and provides a gentle and evenly distributed pressure that goes deep within the body, stimulating the secretion of serotonin and melatonin, the hormones of happiness and sleep, and lowering the levels of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. It may greatly help those who suffer from sleeping problems, anxiety or related issues. The Polish founders of the Gravity brand have used this knowledge to design comfortable weighted accessories that everyone can wrap themselves in at home and feel at peace. Gravity product series includes blankets, quilts, bathrobes, eye masks and anti-stress vests for children.
An app that teaches the basics of meditation. One of the first and most recognised, mindfulness platforms.
Andy Puddicombe, a passionate meditation practitioner, dropped out of university at the age of 22 to become a Buddhist monk. After a few years, he returned to the UK with a mission to "make meditation accessible to as many people as possible". As he decided, so he did. He, together with his business partner Richard Pierson, started Headspace, a company that has democratised the mindfulness market, and has operated it for 11 years now. One of the company's most important products is a simple and clear meditation application. All you need to do is to take a couple of minutes a day. During this time, a warm and gentle voice slowly explains relaxation and anti-stress techniques at varying levels of advancement. Each session can be stopped at any time. Headspace representatives pride themselves on the effectiveness of their trainings. The research they refer to shows that people who used the app for 10 days, 10 minutes a day, had fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Natural CBD oils that regulate the system responsible for our mood and sleep cycle, among other things.
Multiple studies demonstrated that more than 20 million Poles experience long-term stress and anxiety. In addition, nearly 70 percent of our country's population has difficulty sleeping through the night at least once a week. These civilisation-related problems have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. All this translates into the recent fast-growing popularity of natural CBD oils. The oil major ingredient, phytocannabinoids, is one of the active compounds found in hemp. It does not cause intoxication, but is known for its therapeutic properties and effects. It enhances the functioning of the human endocannabinoid system, which modulates the sleep-wake cycle and controls mood, appetite, immune response, body temperature, metabolism, cardiovascular and reproductive functions. The endocannabinoid system needs supplementation as it may tend to fail in circumstances of chronic stress and overloading with external factors. Hemp Juice is one of CBD oil manufacturers in Poland. It offers CBD products under names associated with relaxation such as "re-balance", "chill af" or "big mood".
Innolux anti-depressant lamps
Lamps to help treat seasonal depression caused by sunlight deficiency.
Every year, the media rave about 'Blue Monday', the most depressing day of the year which, according to a psychologist Cliff Arnall, falls on the Monday of the last full week of January. The scientist determined this date using an algorithm that takes into account a variety of factors such as meteorological conditions (short day, low amount of sunshine), psychological (first signs of not keeping New Year's resolutions) and economic ones (account balance after Christmas shopping). Although most experts disagree with Dr Arnall, the so-called seasonal depression really exists. The reduced level of sunlight during the autumn and winter months is supposedly the main triggering factor. Bright light therapy lamps that emit warm light simulating natural sunlight can help alleviate symptoms and combat this seasonal blues. One of the manufacturers of bright light therapy lamps is Innolux, a company from Finland where there is increased need for light therapy devices since darkness prevails in this country for a large part of the year. Innolux Rondo series lamps are medically certified to prove their effectiveness.
Psychoterratica is a trauma caused by being disconnected from nature. So-called forest bathing can help counter illness.
As early as 1982, the Japanese authorities recognised forest bathing as a form of therapy. Forest bathing involves mindful and slow walking in nature during which, according to scientists, the most important thing is inhaling air filled with essential oils called phytoncides. Trees produce phytoncides to protect against pests, but they also have positive effects on mood, immune system function, sleep quality and creativity, as well as reducing blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels. Similar programmes have been implemented and operated in many other countries around the world. In Poland forest therapy practice is run by the Warsaw group called "Forest Development Walks" with Adam Markuszewski and Marta Ostrowska in charge. What do participants do?
The idea is to spend several dozen minutes walking in the forest and experience the pleasures of nature through all of senses. The forest therapy guides always have a set of tasks prepared which help tuning into the "here and now". These include breathing exercises, listening to different sounds of the forest, walking barefoot, learning the textures of different plants and looking at the forest as an entirety.
mental health tool kit
Mindnosis is a tool kit with tips to help understand emotional distress. It is particularly useful at the beginning of the therapeutic process.
At first glance it looks like a thoughtfully designed board game, yet, this kit is in fact not for playing. Mindnosis is a practical 'first aid kit' that helps people at the beginning of the therapeutic process to better understand anxiety. The tool was created from the need of the heart. Its designer, Sara Lopez Ibanez, when was in a mental health crisis, needed professional help. She herself went through various forms of therapy and realised that the first visit with the therapist may present an insurmountable painful barrier for some people. Her own experiences and observations influenced her decision to create a mental health tool kit that would not only help improve self-awareness of the experienced emotions, but also facilitate to find the most appropriate forms of support. This is possible through a set of well thought out exercises. One of them, called Discover, involves matching the appropriate colour of the cards to the places in the record journal, so that the source of the current problem can be easily identified.
It can turn you crazy.
A podcast about mental health. It sticks to the science in form and is rigorous as to the content presented.
Anna Cyklinska is a psychologist and future psychotherapist. Cleo Ćwiek is a model who has been struggling with bipolar disorder for four years. The duo decided to join forces to talk about their mental health experiences in the form of podcasts. "Można Zwariować" tames various disorders and debunks mental health-related myths that are often repeated on the Internet. The podcast is packed full of information and scientific knowledge, but we also get interesting anecdotes. Each episode is presented in a funny and accessible form, the authors use humour to demonstrate that mental health crisis may affect people with different types of personalities and living in different ways. It covers a range of topics from mental health, the issues that concern (almost) everyone, although we often pretend that this is not the case: eating disorders, postnatal depression, impostor syndrome or experiences from the first psychotherapy session, and many others.
Ministries to combat loneliness
In country after country, governments are creating ministries to help citizens cope with feelings of isolation.
The researchers at the University of Utah have found that long-term loneliness is directly linked to premature deaths in the developed world. It increases the risk of health problems such as depression, eating disorders, heart disease and dementia, and is one of common causes of suicide. Sadly to say, for several years now, many countries across the world have been talking about experiencing an epidemic of loneliness. For example, according to official figures, half of all Britons over the age of 75 reported feeling lonely. The situation of young people with disabilities is even worse, as many as 85% of them live in isolation. For this reason, in 2018 the UK government appointed a Minister for Loneliness to develop a nation-wide strategy and create a support system for the most vulnerable groups. Another ministry of loneliness was set up by the government of Japan, where in 2020, as a result of the social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a rise in suicides was seen for the first time in 11 years.
An app to offer immediate help for anyone who may be having suicidal thoughts.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19 years. In response to this worrying global trend, the Mental Health Association of New York developed the MY3 app even before the coronavirus pandemic struck. It is a support platform specifically designed for people with suicidal thoughts. Its name can be translated as 'My Three'. Each user adds the contact details of three people they would like to talk to in a crisis situation. MY3 also provides quick access to a 24/7 helpline and a free 30-minute online psychologist consultation. Another option is creating personalised and proven safety strategies to help you stay calm when anxious thoughts pop into your head. This clear and simple application provides practical advice targeted to specific vulnerable groups, for example LGBTQ youth and military veterans.
A cookbook intended for people who experience smell and taste disorders as a result of COVID-19.
Ryan Riley, the founder of Life Kitchen project, has been studying for years how different types of cancer affect patients' perception of taste and smell. In 2020, the experience of losing these senses became widespread due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Riley decided to put his experience to good use. His research and studies conducted with experts revealed that some coronavirus patients were not particularly fond of eggs, onions, garlic and meat. Eating these ingredients in some of COVID-19 sufferers set off a wave of negative mental and physical health consequences. There is only one question left: how to build flavour if we exclude these ingredients from the diet? Life Kitchen shows that it is possible to avoid certain foods in recipes. The editorial house decided to publish a free cookbook called 'Taste and Flavour' containing 18 special recipes crafted for people whose sense of smell and taste has been affected by the coronavirus to help them enjoy food again.
A Polish platform to connect the patient and the therapist in a personalised way.
The range of professionals providing therapeutic assistance is very diverse. Unfortunately, a person experiencing a mental health crisis often does not have sufficient knowledge and psychological space to orient themselves through the specifics of a stream, or to view and verify opinions of a doctor. The truth is that the very first visit to a randomly selected therapist or counselor, if it appears ineffective, may have disastrous consequences and discourage the patient from seeking help in future. Therapify concept solves this problem. Therapify is a Polish platform designed to help matching a specialist to individual needs and facilitating the commencement of the therapeutic process. An important part of Therapify is a specially designed application to be used by both parties, which provides a fast and easy access to the patient's records and exercises prepared by the psychotherapist. Thus, the Therapify solution enables the delivery of therapeutic sessions and counselling partially via the Internet, which is particularly important in times of pandemics.
The school of life
An organisation that offers educational tools to help people lead more sustainable and fulfilled lives.
The primary aim of the creators of The School of Life was to fill a gap in the contemporary educational systems. They noticed that schools teach knowledge in specific subjects and prepare for many professions, but no one prepares kids to live in the world. As a result, we are left alone with questions about important changes, relationships with others or how to cope with our own problems. To prevent this, The School of Life has designed tools to help us achieve peace of mind and better understand ourselves in order to make optimal decisions at different stages of our lives. The organisation offers many services including meetings and workshops with therapists, psychologists and other experts (live or online), as well as films, books and educational accessories. Among these accessories we can find, for example, the Emotional First Aid Kit, a set of cards with practical emergency advice for 20 key psychological situations, including friendship, love, sex, work and the self. An emotional barometer – a tool to explain our moods, is another interesting example.
A chatbot to help people suffering from depression. It is affordable, accessible 24/7 and – most importantly – based on evidence and scientific knowledge.
No method to combat depression is more effective than regular psychotherapy, sometimes also in combination with pharmacotherapy. However, a group of researchers from Stamford University believe that blending face-to-face real-life psychologist meetings with the care offered by artificial intelligence may be highly beneficial. Woebot is a tool designed to help this challenge. Woebot is an app that will teach you basic cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to better deal with stress and crisis situations. A typical session with a chatbot lasts for about 10 minutes. During this time, the AI will ask more than a dozen questions requiring non-standard answers to assess the patient's mental health condition. The programme combines solid scientific knowledge with a variety of exercises and practical methods (including art therapy) to help identify, evaluate and try to treat cognitive distortions.
Increasingly many people believe that incense, stones or herbs help keep mental balance.
When browsing Instagram, or visiting fashionable friends, we may come across artifacts of modern shamans these days. The most popular shamanic tools are woods from palo santo tree meaning in Spanish "wood of the saints". When burned, the sticks emit an aroma that can help promote meditation and clear the mind. Alternatively, bundles of dried white sage are used for cleansing negative energy and stimulating wisdom.
However, shamanism in the modern world does not only consist of smudging various spaces with a smoldering smoke. Stones and crystals are believed to work in powerful ways, and to have important functions. For example, black onyx is thought to add firmness and harness the power of protection, while rose quartz is known as a crystal that strengthens empathy. Some shamanic artifacts are also edible. Adaptogen powders, for example, which are blends of herbs and mushroom, are added to food to protect against stress, calm the body and enhance mental performance "at the deepest level". The latest trend in spiritual restoration is so-called ceremonial cacao which contains anandamide known as a molecule of happiness, which induces a sense of supreme bliss and true and lasting joy.
An application to help those struggling with anxiety and symptoms of depression. It was designed and launched by Jo Aggarwal who herself once needed help.
The coronavirus pandemic reminded us of an obvious thing: mental health crises are generally dealt with in solitude. It should be borne in mind that in many parts of the world, including the countries of global south, the access to mental health professionals is difficult. Both of these problems are being addressed by artificial intelligence, which, although it won't hug anybody or cure depression, will at least help ease the effects of a mental breakdown. Meet Wysa, a free chatbot that works around the clock, regardless of time zone. This AI-based bot asks a lot of questions to identify the cause of anxiety or stress disorders. Specially designed exercises developed in consultations with a team of psychologists from the cognitive-behavioural stream facilitate minimising negative feelings. An important feature of Wysa is also an option of connecting the user with a real psychologist who will conduct an online session, if necessary.
A charity initiative launched together by Reserved and ITAKA Foundation to fight against the mental health impact of the pandemic.
The idea of this charity to support young people in a crisis time was born during the execution of Re.Design collection by the Reserved brand together with representatives of generation Z. The problem of depression appears to be increasing among the young generation, and the last year has been particularly tough. As Izabela Świergiel from the ITAKA Foundation says, sufferers face obstacles already at the stage of seeking help. Young people are afraid to trust and tell their relatives, or underestimate the problem, thus it is important to provide access to support channels that guarantee the anonymity. In response to this need, the Reserved brand has donated 300,000 zlotys to support young people in their fight against the psychological effects of the pandemic. Youth Helpline, free online therapist chat room and a series of individual counseling online meetings with specialists were implemented in cooperation with the ITAKA Foundation for the needs of this project.