3.7 min readPublished On: September 22nd, 2020Categories: MA, Thesis

Starting my thesis project over 12 weeks ago now, I am now going into the final phase. Starting off with my original question, I have now reached a point where I can now start to develop a strong outcome that answers it.

“How can graphic design be utilised to help improve the lives of individuals suffering from IBD related chronic illness?”

It took time to gather research on this project as I have to be very careful about the ethics of gathering first-hand research. However, when I started talking to people I could really see that the key symptom that people see affecting their mental health is the fatigue associated with the illness. The inability of your body being able to do what it is usually able to do.

“Doctors say, that to understand the fatigue of Crohn’s Diseas or Ulcerative Colitis a “normal person” would have to stay awake for three straight days and then try to function”

You can suffer from flares of this symptom during a relapse of your illness. This frustration can affect your mental health as people can often see this as a fake/attention-seeking symptom due to you not always suffering from it. As well as this, not being able to do what you want to do and what you could do previously. Not having control of your body. This can be isolating in many ways. 

I then went on to generate an idea for a subscription box. A way in which you can reach out to people with a physical subscription that tackles three key topics: Positivity, Comfort, and Exercise. Taking a step back however, I see that is one of many outcomes that can be created by a brand with the ethos that I want to lead this with. 

What the box did not have was engagement. Once you receive the box, there was no further interaction. I want to create a community that brings people together during this extremely isolating and frustrating time for support, as well as raise awareness of this symptom that is common for many other chronic illnesses.

This project is now transforming into a business plan proposal, so moving forward through this phase. I want to revert back to my Module 3 project, Business & Entrepreneurship. This will allow me to see how I tackled a concept from the ground upwards.


Generating Ideas

I am in at this point in my project where I am generating ideas in my head that I think could really work. However, I am struggling to put them down and create something from them. So I will be using Design Kit to help me put these ideas down in this blog post.

 

Align on Your Impact Goals – Get crystal clear on the change you want to achieve, in the near-term and long-term. https://www.designkit.org/methods/align-on-your-impact-goals

1. What do I hope the impact of the project to be:

  • Improve the mental wellbeing of people suffering from fatigue caused by a flare of IBD
  • Use graphic design to do this – As a tool to deliver the project, and to inspire creativity as a self-help tool.
  • Raise awareness of IBD and the symptom of fatigue
  • Show people they aren’t alone by sharing stories and experiences

2. Order these from high (hard to reach, most impactful) to low (easy to reach quick goals):

  1. Improve the mental wellbeing of people suffering from fatigue caused by a flare of IBD
  2. Raise awareness of IBD and the symptom of fatigue
  3. Show people they aren’t alone by sharing stories and experiences
  4. Use graphic design to do this – As a tool to deliver the project, and to inspire creativity as a self-help tool.

3. Lasting contribution & Key outcome

The lasting social change I would like to contribute to is:

  • Improving the mental wellbeing of people suffering from fatigue caused by a flare of IBD whilst raising awareness of IBD and the symptom of fatigue

The more near-term outcome that tells me my solution is working is:

  • Inspire people to get creative as a self-help method and share their own methods within a community.

The key shifts that need to happen in order to get there are:

  • The general public will need to be made aware of the impact fatigue can have on patients
  • Patients will be more open to sharing and receiving methods for self-help
  • I will need to share the power graphic design/colour/creativity can have on your wellbeing. 

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